Significant relief is on its way to partially offset Anaheim’s budget woes stemming from the government-imposed shutdown that has dramatically reduced tax revenues from the city’s tourism and convention sector.
Anaheim will receive $30.6 million under the federal CARES legislation enacted this spring. The money is intended to assist state and local governments cover costs related to COVID-19.
City officials recently learned those funds could be use to reimburse the city for the $15 million Economic Recovery Program enacted on March 28. That program initially consisted of $2,000,000 in direct assistance to residents and community non-profits; up to $6,000,000 for housing assistance programs, city workforce continuity and homeless assistance; and a $6,500,000 to Visit Anaheim to retain core staff and continue booking new conventions, re-booking canceled ones, and generally positions the Resort for rapid recovery when the pandemic ends. The funding came from city reserves.
“Now we believe we can use that funding to basically back fill what we already spent,” City of Anaheim spokesman Michael Lyster said. “How that helps us is that we used part of our general fund reserves and we used part of the convention center reserves to fund that program.”
The city still faces a significant budget gap, however. Last month, the city council approved a budget with a projected $75 million dollar shortfall, with the intention of covering the gap with 20% across-the-board cuts.
Councilman Jose F. Moreno has long supported imposing a “gate tax” on visitors to the Disneyland Resort and events at Angel Stadium and the Honda Center. He has used the COVID-indices budget crisis to once again call for putting such a tax in the November 2020 ballot. So far, he has only had support from District 1 Councilmember Denise Barnes, who last month changed her party registration from Republican to Democrat.
The majority of the council supports exploring other strategies for bridging the gap, ultimately looking to the end of the government-imposes economic shutdown and the re-opening of the Anaheim Resort, which generates the bulk of city tax revenues.