In October, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Peoria as one of 30 U.S. cities that will participate in What Works Cities’ new “City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery” program. The initiative is intended to help cities develop and implement plans to drive financial recovery in the wake of COVID-19, while ensuring their budget crises do not disproportionately harm low-income residents and communities of color. It will also provide an opportunity for city leaders to problem-solve with a network of peers and produce a set of tactics for others to follow.
Launched in 2015, What Works Cities is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence to solve big problems. Through the “City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery” program, it will support mayors, chief financial officers and budget directors using data-driven best practices as they manage their pandemic responses.
Revenue shortfalls loom for nearly 90 percent of U.S. cities, which are projected to lose $360 billion over the next three years. More than half expect to cut public safety spending, while more than a quarter plan to lay off workers, according to a survey conducted by the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. At the same time, cities must still deliver vital services to residents. The new program will help them navigate these high-stakes decisions with the latest data and trusted expertise.
“The pandemic has both highlighted and reinforced the disproportionate impacts of a major disruption or crisis on the most vulnerable in our community,” says Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis. “With that in mind, we see making fair-minded spending decisions as a critically important goal for the future of Peoria.”
Program participants will receive guidance from finance experts in the public, private and academic sectors; engage with their peers in interactive workshops; and receive customized support and technical assistance valued at over $100,000 per city. What Works Cities will share the learnings and resources developed during the program publicly to ensure that cities everywhere can apply them to their local budgeting process. Springfield is the only other participating city in Illinois, joining larger metro areas such as Denver, Seattle and Philadelphia. The program runs through December 2021. Learn more at whatworkscities.bloomberg.org. PM