Update on the City's Response to COVID-19
Four months on we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. It is, without question, a trying time that has upended our daily lives and forced us to adapt to a radically different world. As we do so, let's be sure to keep our community safe and healthy by remembering to practice social distancing, wear a face covering, and wash our hands regularly when out and about.
Let's also not forget the local merchants, restauranteurs, and service providers that make up our business community. We count on them to be the lifeblood of the local economy, to create local jobs, to support our nonprofits and sports teams, and contribute to Diamond Bar's community character and identity. They need us right now more than ever to support them to the greatest extent possible. Recognizing this, the Diamond Bar City Council funded the Business Recovery Program, leveraging federal funds to provide $5,000 grants to 64 small businesses, and relaxed zoning requirements to allow for outdoor operations and services. Please consider them when shopping for essentials, getting meals to go, or contracting service providers.
Not surprisingly, the City's budget has also been battered by COVID-19. With General Fund revenues expected to fall by over $2.3 million this year due to the pandemic, the City Council chose to balance the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget using emergency reserves to ensure essential services remained in place. While the availability of reserves during the crisis is demonstrative of prudent and strategic planning throughout the City's history, the impacts of COVID-19 escalate the City's mounting fiscal challenges. Now a mature and largely built-out community, Diamond Bar faces slowing revenue trends, increasing maintenance and operational costs and declining reserves, all of which threaten the City's ability to maintain and expand services, programs, facilities, and infrastructure without future cuts. Additional details about the City's fiscal condition and budgeting process are available in a presentation on the City's YouTube Channel.
At the July 21 meeting, the City Council voted 4-1 to place a Transactions and Use Tax measure before the voters on the November 3, 2020 ballot, asking Diamond Bar residents to consider a three-quarters percent tax increase on retail sales. If approved by a majority of the voters, the measure would generate up to $3.8 million in additional funding annually - funding that could be used be used for any community priority, from parks and facilities to public safety and infrastructure. All funds would remain in the community and could not be diverted to the state or county. For further information on the measure, please visit www.diamondbarca.gov/localmeasure.
We will continue to share information on the measure and the City's finances and operations in future messages and on all City outlets, including print, digital, and social media accounts. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with your thoughts, comments, or suggestions by sending an email to RMcLean@diamondbarca.gov or by calling (909) 839-7016.
In the meantime, I send my best to you and your family. Stay safe and healthy.