Most of the money Alexandria receives from the federal government will go to city response costs, including personal protective equipment, emergency response pay, technology acquisitions, hotel expenses, communication materials and direct mail.
After losing $92 million in revenue, Alexandria plans to gain anywhere from $20 million to $27 million from the federal government, depending on how the money is distributed to localities by the state from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Members of the City Council are still waiting to see how much money state officials will send as the governor’s office decides between distributing the cash based on population or economic need.
“There’s a lot of uncertainties here,” said City Manager Mark Jinks. “Clearly the intent is not to leave a dime on the table by the time we get to the tail end of the calendar year.”
The city expects residents to continue struggling with rent payments into the fall. Alexandria’s housing department will deploy housing assistance to those with incomes of up to $75,000, particularly those living with incomes under 50 percent of the Virginia median household income. City officials hope to spend about $3 million to help residents and property owners.
“We went to multiple property owners in the city and asked them what their operating costs were per month,” said Helen McIlvaine, director of the Office of Housing. “We would be able to serve approximately 1,600 households.”
Small businesses brace for costly expenses when they reopen such as personal protective equipment for employees, temperature scans, online communications platforms and ordering portals such as the ALX at Home website. After providing tax relief and surveying businesses on financial needs, city economic development organizations plan to help local businesses access grants from the state and city to pay for new investments. About $2 million in CARES Act funds will go to small business assistance.
“What we need is for these businesses to be operating and generating taxes as soon as possible,” said Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership.
The city is allowed to allocate some CARES money for school expenses, according to Mayor Justin Wilson. Though the school division is proceeding with its budget process as planned, revenues are expected to decline. Superintendent Gregory Hutchings will present a revised budget for the next fiscal year before its adoption in June.
“We haven’t changed our budget priorities,” said School Board Chairwoman Cindy Anderson. “We’re just having a lot of money disappear.”