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Smaller metro Detroit localities hit hard by COVID-19 crisis, leaders say

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Posted at 12:13 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 12:15:34-04

(WXYZ) — Many smaller localities in metro Detroit have struggled during the COVID-19 crisis.

Congressman Andy Levin hosted a call with community leaders to bring awareness for the need of stabilization funding for smaller localities.

Included on the call were the mayors of Mt. Clemens and Clawson, along with city managers from Roseville and Madison Heights.

Levin introduceda bill to provide $250 billion in funding to smaller communities.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, signed into law on March 27, provided stabilization funds for states and larger communities, but capped localities able to receive direct support at those with populations of over 500,000.

The Coronavirus Community Relief Act would provide stabilization funds for local communities, cities and towns across the United States.

Laura Kropp, the mayor of Mt. Clemens, said it has been a challenge to protect first responders in the community. Mt. Clemens has a total of 10 firefighters.

She said the staff is also small; 16 people are working full time to run the city. Rapidly activating emergency operations is a big cost for a local community, Kropp said. She said Congress' CARES Act didn't address costs like this.

Additionally, she said there is a big concern for the homeless community in Mt. Clemens.

"They were forgotten about by every level of government," she said.

The government has put out port-a-johns and is pursuing masks for them, along with setting up temporary shelters. Their shelters are full or non-existent due to no staffing.

Mayor Reese Scripture of Clawson said the city has a tight-knit community; several members are going out to get sanitizer and are making masks to give to the police.

Clawson's population is 12,000. Scripture said the operating budget is $8 million.

"This is going to devastate us," Scripture said. "Yesterday, we were forced to furlough 42 employees."

"We have not recovered from the previous recession. When this new recession starts affecting property tax revenue, I don't know how we are going to recover without assistance. We need this bill to pass. We are going to be in trouble."

Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins said the city is struggling to protect its first responders.

"We could not get our first responders, who were symptomatic, tested last week," Adkins said.

Residents and businesses have been dropping off supplies in Roseville. Adkins said the city had to spend $20,000 unbudgeted in order to get masks.

"It's a terrible time, we are left without many options," Adkins said. "Looking at the financial impact, it's going to be huge. Local municipalities are at the back end. Cities are businesses too. We are in uncharted waters."

Madison Heights City Manager Melissa Marsh said the financial impact has been severe; the city has had to furlough staff.

"The biggest loser will be the residents," she said. "It's drastically changing the way we live."

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.