Garden Grove

Coronavirus means big financial drain

THE EFFECT on city and local business finances was presented at Tuesday’s meeting of the Garden Grove City Council (Pexels photo).

By Jim Tortolano

The coronavirus pandemic may not last more than a few more months but the economic impact could go on for years. That was a large part of the presentation at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Garden Grove City Council about the city’s response to the COVID-19 infections.

Cities all over the nation are expected to struggle with the loss of tax revenue and the new demands of an unprecedented crisis.

Patricia Song, city finance director, spoke about the affected areas, as evaluated on April 9. “This is a very serious time for our finances,” she said.

Highlights of her report included:

  • Steep losses of millions in tax revenue, the greatest part of which is from transient occupancy tax (“bed tax”) paid by guests at hotels and motels;
  • Because of strong economic performance in the first eight months of the fiscal year, the city is expected to show a $2 million general fund surplus for 2019-20. However, it’s estimated that for 2020-2021 a $5 million deficit is projected.
  • Increases in the cost of pensions.
  • Concern about how fast or slow economic vitality will return after the pandemic is over, as it may take time “to rebuild consumer confidence.”
  • Concern about possible long-term changes in the economy such as whether the move to more online buying might damage “brick and mortar” stores in the city, and whether teleconferencing might reduce business trips and conclaves, which provide a key part of the hospitality industry.

Tom DaRé, chief of police and director of the city’s emergency operations center, reported that crime was down 12 percent overall, but there has been a 7 percent increase in violent crime, a 40 percent increase in aggravated assault and 72 percent hike in domestic violence. Property crime is down 17 percent.

Many of the aggravated assault incidents occurred in and around grocery store parking lots, so “high visibility patrols” have been deployed to ensure public safety at those locations.

Lisa Kim, assistant city manager and community and economic director, spoke about the city’s Resource and Resiliency Plan.

“Local businesses are struggling,” she said. Kim spoke about federal assistance both directly to the city and small businesses in Garden Grove. Loan application help and information about the availability of “forgivable” loans through the federal Small Business Administration are part of the plan.

Additional details of the resource and resiliency plan will be posted on the city’s website – www.ggcity.org – Wednesday morning.

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