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Omaha seeks share of Douglas County COVID-19 relief funds

(WOWT)
Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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If your population is over 500,000 — you qualify for coronavirus relief dollars from the federal government. Omaha is around 30,000 people shy of that.

But Douglas County — including the city's population — surpassed the benchmark, qualified and received a direct deposit.

Tuesday's debate at City Hall was over money. Specifically, cash doled out by Congress through the CARES Act for coronavirus expenses. Days ago, Douglas County received a check for $166 million. The City of Omaha — nothing.

This afternoon, the city went on the record to make sure it gets a piece of the pie.

“I hope you will see that you are made whole. Not for revenue losses but out-of-pocket expenses,”

said.

Duda rarely comes to a City Council meeting; he has his own budgets to address. But today's trip to city hall came with intent to reassure city leaders — and taxpayers — Omaha will be reimbursed for COVID-19 expenses through the CARES Act money the county received last week.

“I’m truly sorry you ever felt the need to put this on the agenda. This should be a given,” Duda said. “We're partners. We're all in this together. You shouldn't have to formally ask us, it should be understood. We will move forward together."

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s team estimates that by the end of the year the City of Omaha will have

.

So far, there isn't a way for the city to recoup the estimated $80 million — and counting — in lost revenue connected to sales and restaurant taxes as well as hotel fees.

“I think it's important in a collegial way to make the friendly ask to underscore the important part the city plays in the county's and state's health,”

said.

The County Board plans to discuss where the $166 million will go at its meeting on May 19.