Mayor Gradisar says Pueblo joins 30 other cities in a program to drive COVID-19 financial recovery

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Mayor Gradisar

PUEBLO, Colo. – Mayor Nick Gradisar and Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that Pueblo is one of 30 cities, and will join Fort Collins and Denver, that will participate in the What Works Cities City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program.

According to a press release by the City of Pueblo, the program is a new effort that will help cities confront the budget crisis while strengthening their commitment to equity in the wake of COVID-19. The program will help cities develop and implement plans to drive financial recovery and ensure that their budget crisis do not disproportionately harm low-income residents and communities of color. It will also provide the opportunity for leaders from the 30 cities to problem solve with a network of peers and produce a set of tactics for other local leaders to follow.

“How Pueblo recovers from COVID-19, will define our next decade and we must rebound with a City that prioritizes inclusivity and equity,” said Mayor Gradisar. “A city budget is a statement of priorities and working in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, my goal is that we develop a data-driven and inclusive financial structure that helps brighten Pueblo’s future.  

Participating in this program with the Mayor will be senior staff members, Chief of Staff Laura Solano, and Director of Finance Charles Hernandez, CPA.

Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies 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. According to What Works Cities, the program gives local leaders the tools to replicate successful programs and engage the public, fund and improve services, and evaluate progress. Through the City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program, What Works Cities will support mayors, chief financial officers, and budget directors to use data-driven best practices as they continue to manage their pandemic responses. 

“Cities across the country are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Revenues are down, demand for services is up, there is uncertainty about what support cities will receive from the federal government, and there are urgent needs around racial equity,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and 108th Mayor of New York City. “Through this new initiative, we will offer municipal leaders tools to help them navigate the crisis, setting a path more cities can follow as they develop their own recovery plans.”

The program will cover challenges most pressing to budget leaders including:

  • Understanding, accessing and spending COVID relief funds
  • Financing that enables strong budget health
  • Increasing revenues in a way that doesn’t disproportionately impact low-income families
  • Incorporating an equity analysis into major budget decisions, including cuts.

Program participants, which will include mayors and city financial leaders, will receive guidance from finance experts in the public, private, and academic sectors such as Professor Lourdes German from Boston College and Marc Shaw, Chair of the CUNY Institute of State and Local Governance; 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 are able to apply them to their local budgeting process. 

The 30 cities that have been selected to participate in the program, which will run through December 2021:

  • Akron (OH)
  • Austin (TX)
  • Birmingham (AL)
  • Chattanooga (TN)
  • Chula Vista (CA)
  • Columbia (SC)
  • Columbus (OH)
  • Denver (CO)
  • Durham (NC)
  • Fort Collins (CO)
  • Knoxville (TN)
  • Lincoln (NE)
  • Madison (WI)
  • New Orleans (LA)
  • Oakland (CA)
  • Peoria (IL)
  • Philadelphia (PA)
  • Providence (RI)
  • Pueblo (CO)
  • Rochester (NY)
  • Salt Lake City (UT)
  • Savannah (GA)
  • Seattle (WA)
  • Springfield (IL)
  • Stockton (CA)
  • Syracuse (NY)
  • Tacoma (WA)
  • Tampa (FL)
  • Toledo (OH)
  • West Palm Beach (FL)

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