In what could be called a veritable “embarrassment of riches,” the Falls Church City Council will make some important decisions at its meeting this Monday on how to deploy what’s a whopping sum for a city Falls Church’s size, some $14 million in surplus funds, with another $8 million or so still to come.
The year of Covid-19 has produced this surplus, including a $3.2 million surplus in the Fiscal Year 21 year end balance and the first of two installments of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds designed to compensate for the impact of the pandemic on jurisdictions throughout the country. But it’s not as if the City doesn’t have serious needs for these funds.
Perhaps in ways not anticipated, the pandemic has taken an enormous toll on everyone, and the City of Falls Church is no exception. At the top of the list are the needs that come under the category of “human capital.” Notwithstanding the suffering and death (750,000 Americans dead and many more still to come) caused by the Covid-19 virus itself, there has been a radical disruption of the life patterns of most Americans to one degree or another. The patently absurd politically-led resistance to the vaccines developed in absolutely stunning record time in the last year has seriously exacerbated the problem, keeping the threat of new waves of even deadlier strands of the virus alive. One can only imagine the shape we’d be if those vaccines were still years off, as per the expectations of experts when the challenge first confronted us. The U.S. would be totally decimated as a world power and its population ravaged on a scale barely imaginable. Yet fools or worse, motivated by disinformation from our nation’s cruellest enemies, persist.
We fully support whatever mandatory mitigation efforts our best experts might require of us, and that includes stiff penalties for any public official or influencer who stands against them on behalf of the public.
As for Falls Church’s challenges represented by its need to mitigate the effects with surplus dollars here, they clearly fall in the area of human compensation, almost completely. This is not the time to get excited about how this money can be used to fix infrastructure not in dire need or to offer merely symbolic tax relief that would be a terrible waste of government resources to implement. Not when people are hurting badly, and as always disproportionately at the lower end of the economic scale.
The funds need to be deployed to compensate for the salary and job losses of all City and school employees and for small businesses that can’t afford to hire at anything like adequate compensation levels. Such businesses need to be properly seen as co-collaborators with the wider government effort to tend to the needs of the public, and helped with the means to do that by staying in business and hiring.