By Mayor Daniel Corona
West Wendover, NV
For the better part of a year, since the pandemic began, it’s been the responsibility of state and local leaders to take action on protecting their constituents. Whether it’s issuing public health directives in accordance with CDC recommendations or establishing programs and task forces to address economic security for families and businesses alike, it’s been our priority to make sure Nevadans are safe and healthy. In West Wendover, for example, we immediately paused shutoffs for nonpayment of City-run utility bills, and worked to ensure that our local food pantry and senior center had enough funds to keep those who are the most vulnerable in our community fed. But these initiatives don’t come without a cost. Congress must pass President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan to ease the financial strain of COVID-19 on states and local municipalities and on the pocketbooks of Nevada families.
As we steadily and safely reopen our state’s businesses and public amenities with the need to protect public health, we must also remember that it’s our workers on the frontline who are in the most need of additional help. These don’t just include health care providers and medical staff, but educators, janitors, and all matter of public servants as well. These folks have gone 10 months since the CARES Act Relief Fund passed in Congress, which included resources to aid frontline workers. Now that those resources are drying up, these workers risk losing their jobs and their livelihoods without further aid. In West Wendover, the entity that oversees parks & recreation is almost entirely funded through room tax revenue. This pandemic has pushed them to their limits and without assistance to help recuperate their losses in revenues, many programs that the youth in our community rely upon will potentially have to be cut or scaled back.
Further, our state, counties, cities, and school districts are in dire straits as well. The chaotic nature of the previous administration’s initial response to COVID-19 left state and local officials with the daunting task of coordinating finite resources as best we could as the crisis unfolded in real time. This has led to damaging cuts to public services and public sector workers, leading to a backlog of public projects unfinished, furloughs and layoffs, and local municipalities being less helpful to the people they serve. West Wendover, thankfully, fared well without any layoffs or furloughs, but other jurisdictions around the state may have had a much different experience. We have had to delay a planned recreation center since it is funded primarily by room tax revenues which have taken a major hit. est Wendover thankfully fared well but that you can’t speak for other municipalities in the state.
Under our new leadership at the federal level, it must be an immediate priority for Congress to pass the President’s COVID-19 relief package. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and others have argued persuasively that insufficient support for state and local services after the 2007 Great Recession slowed the recovery to full employment. We cannot repeat this same mistake.
The American Rescue Plan would help rural communities like West Wendover support its frontline workers, its small businesses, and our public services to help us all get through this crisis and recover together. Even further, it will help us have the resources needed to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine and get our city back on track. As a community that relies heavily on tourism, it is imperative that the resources for widespread vaccination become available without delay so that we can fully open and get our community members back to work safely! I hope you will join me in urging Congress to immediately pass the American Rescue Plan for the well-being of our home here in West Wendover, and for Nevadans across the state.