Cities Are Essential
May 19, 2020 by Meredith Trimble
Whether you live in a large metropolis like L.A., in a small municipality like Fayetteville, West Virginia, or somewhere in between, it’s impossible to imagine life without cities and the local governments that keep them running.
Life Without Cities
Life without cities would mean no libraries; no senior services, and diminished local business support. Without cities, who would manage and maintain local parks or provide recreation? What about road maintenance, garbage pickup, and local infrastructure? What would communities look like without our local police, fire departments, or schools?
Cities, powered by local governments, not only provide the 84% of Americans who live in them with essential services for quality of life, but they are also best positioned to create and carry out solutions to some of our country’s biggest challenges. In fact, new research from Tyler Technologies, Inc. and the Center for Generational Kinetics shows 60% or more of Americans of all generations agree government “has to be the solution for today’s problems.”
Cities Solve Problems
We’ve seen real solutions to homelessness, the opioid crisis, equitable access to justice, food scarcity, and other issues developed and implemented at the community level, in ways that can be scaled regionally and upward. But in no instance have local governments’ agility and innovation been more apparent than now in their navigation of the COVID-19 crisis.
Cities are optimizing their tools to communicate with residents, quickly identify and proactively serve the most vulnerable, maintain public safety, and expand aid to those in need. Law enforcement agencies, for example, are using dispatch tools to flag calls for service involving potential COVID-19 cases, protecting first responders. School districts are using transportation systems and buses to plan and distribute school meals. Cities of all sizes are using mobile apps to support local businesses and communicate with residents in real time.
Local governments, as Tyler’s Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Puckett recently noted, “weather unprecedented circumstances with grace and grit, agility, and innovation,” time and again. Small cities and towns, in particular, serve more than half of all Americans. As noted in this National League of Cities article, small cities do more with less as a matter of course. They use existing staff and resources and embed innovation, solving problems along the way.
Because cities are vital to our public fabric, National League of Cities launched a Cities Are Essential campaign to advocate for fair, direct, and flexible federal funding for local governments. Such funding will ensure cities can continue to protect families and municipal workers. Federal investment and partnership will also contribute to America’s economic future by supporting the restoration of local economic activity – the backbone of the nation’s economy.
Cities will continue to be the frontlines of the nation’s COVID-19 response for more than 200 million residents across the country. Residents’ health and prosperity depend on cities’ health. Investing in cities and empowering the local officials on the ground is paramount to our communities’ health and vibrancy as well as our nation’s recovery.