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League of Municipalities, city of Tuscaloosa launch online portal to tally cost of COVID-19

Accurate estimates of the financial costs of the COVID-19 pandemic on local municipalities will be critical when cities ask the federal government for help during the recovery, so the Alabama League of Municipalities on Tuesday announced a new portal designed to help cities do just that. 

In partnership with the City of Tuscaloosa, the Alabama League of Municipalities created the COVID-19 Revenue Loss Portal, which municipalities across the state can access to record their local losses due to the virus’s impact, according to a press release from ALM. 

The portal is the product of work done by a 10-member Stimulus Task Force, created by ALM and is made up of local elected officials from across the state who worked to determine the economic damage caused by COVID-19 on sales and use taxes, motor fuel taxes, lodgings taxes, rental taxes and occupational taxes, according to the release. 

“Stimulus Task Force members met multiple times through conference calls to determine resources and establish a matrix for gathering accurate information on a per municipality basis,” said League President and Stimulus Task Force Chair Mayor Ronnie Marks of Athens, in a statement. “This data will be very beneficial as our state moves towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The chief financial officer, finance director or city clerk/treasurer of each municipality can access the portal by visiting and clicking on the home page slider. 

ALM expects data to begin coming in as early as this week, according to the release. 

ALM spokeswoman Kayla Bass told APR in a message Tuesday that the league did not plan to make that data, once collected, publicly available on the league’s website, but said “we will make every effort to share that information with the press.” 

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“I could not be more proud of Alex House, on our communications team, and Susan Snowden, our Finance Director for the City of Tuscaloosa, for the work that they have done in building a platform that is going to aid municipalities across the state,” said League Past President, Stimulus Task Force member and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in a statement. “Each month, the COVID-19 Revenue Loss Portal will allow municipalities to show the state government how much our communities are hurting, and will give a centralized location for our cities and counties to build requests for funding through the CARES Act that will have a lasting impact on our state.”

ALM Interim Executive Director Greg Cochran in a statement said the COVID-19 Revenue Loss Portal will provide accurate information needed to effectively advocate on behalf of communities for replacement stimulus funds from Congress. 

“Alabama’s municipalities are on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 and are being hit the hardest by this pandemic,” Cochran said. “Recognizing this, it was imperative that our organization join forces with municipal officials to identify the areas in which our communities would experience the greatest loss of revenue, as well as a way to capture that data.” 

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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