Long Beach set to receive millions from state, county to help pay for COVID-19 costs

Long Beach stands to receive $40.5 million from the state to help pay for coronavirus services and response, a windfall that roughly equals the city’s projected budget deficit this fiscal year.

Mayor Robert Garcia had said earlier the state was setting aside funding for Long Beach and other big cities that did not qualify for federal stimulus funds. On Monday he announced the dollar figure, adding that the city also expects to receive $13 million from Los Angeles County stimulus funds.

“This will be a significant support for our city’s budget and finances,” Garcia said at a media briefing.

The state funding hinges on the Legislature approving Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal this month.

Long Beach lost out on direct funds from the federal government because it fell about 30,000 residents shy of being considered a “big city.” Sacramento, which has just over 500,000 residents, received $90 million in direct funding from the federal government, while Long Beach got nothing—despite having its own health department.

If it qualified, Long Beach, which is facing at least a $41 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, would have received as much as $80 million from the federal government, officials said earlier.

The funds must be used toward homelessness, public health, public safety, and other services to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Garcia noted the city has provided free testing to all residents, as well as expansion of its homeless shelters and other services.

The city will put additional programs into place dealing with the economic impact that will have lasting impacts, he said.

“These funds will be put to good use,” the mayor said.

Long Beach expects deficits associated with the pandemic for years to come. Loss of sales tax revenue, oil revenue and other taxes will take a heavy toll on the general fund, which pays for basic services like police and fire.

The city must approve its budget for next year by Sept. 30.

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Melissa has been a journalist for over two decades, starting her career as a reporter covering health and religion and moving into local news. She has worked as an editor for eight years, including seven years at the Press Telegram before joining the Long Beach Post in June 2018. She also serves as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach where she teaches multimedia journalism and writing.