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City of ABQ’s coronavirus costs average $100K a day

The city of Albuquerque is spending about $100,000 per day on its response to COVID-19, according to its chief financial officer.

Sanjay Bhakta told the City Council on Monday night that expenses are averaging about $100,000 per day and include employee overtime, cleaning supplies and information technology programs. He said the number could increase as the coronavirus crisis ascends toward its peak in New Mexico.

The federal government’s CARES Act relief package allows local governments of at least 500,000 people to seek direct reimbursement for costs specifically associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Albuquerque officials estimate the city could qualify for up to $150 million under the package.

But Bhakta told the council that the pandemic’s toll on the city budget will more likely take the form of lost tax revenue. With many businesses forced into temporary closures under the state’s stay-at-home order, the city will inevitably see less gross receipts tax.

GRT powers city government. It accounts for 67% of the general fund, which covers police, street maintenance and other basic city services.

Bhakta said local governments across the U.S. are pushing the federal leaders to also provide reimbursement for lost revenue instead of only direct coronavirus costs.

“I think all of us are lobbying for lost revenue – that may be a bigger issue for us than expenditures related to COVID-19,” he said.

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