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January 6, 2011

RE: Federal Issues
I.   Community Development Block Grant Funding Threatened
II.  New Law Requires Federal Agencies to Pay Local Storm-water Fees

Dear Mayor:

I.  Community Development Block Grant Funding Threatened

As the President prepares to deliver his annual State of the Nation Address later this month, and completes preparations for his next Budget Address, to be delivered mid-February, the staff of the National League of Cities (NLC) advises us that serious discussions are taking place inside the Obama Administration regarding the proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2012.  Although not confirmed, Washington sources have indicated that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is facing a possible cut of up to 25 percent (which equates to $1 billion) in the President's Budget.   

Last week, the White House held a conference call for the new Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew to hear from several mayors on key priorities.  During the call, the mayors stressed the importance of fully funding CDBG at $4 billion as the President pledged to do several years ago.  While the Administration did not mention specific cuts on the call, it was stated then (and continues to be stated) that all programs are on the table for discussion and possible cuts.  

Tomorrow, as part of its annual leadership meeting in Washington, D.C., NLC's Board will be meeting with senior White House officials, including Valerie Jarrett, who leads the White House of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, to discuss key priorities.  During the meeting, NLC leadership will be making the case for fully funding CDBG. 

Final decisions on the President's budget proposal are likely to be made soon with the approaching State of the Union address later this month, and the unveiling of the budget in mid-February.  

We need your help pushing for full funding of CDBG in the President's budget and ask you to contact Valerie Jarrett (202.456.1097) and any other contacts you have in the Administration to stress the positive impact this program continues to have in your communities on job creation and other quality of life indicators.  Your calls to the Administration will have the greatest impact this week.

In addition to Friday's meeting with White House officials, NLC is working very closely with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and other national organizations to save funding for this key program.   

As has been widely reported already in and outside of Washington, much of the discussions in Congress this year will focus on deficit reduction.  A request from the President to do this by cutting CDBG will have significant sway over the congressional prospects for this program.  We must not let cuts to CDBG be the "common ground" that at least some in Washington are seeking.  

II. New Law Requires Federal Agencies to Pay Local Storm-water Fees

Also, on Tuesday, January 4, President Obama signed into law S. 3481 requiring federal agencies to pay local pollution fees associated with storm-water that runs off impervious surfaces—such as parking lots—and into local rivers and streams.

Sponsored by Senator Benjamin Cardin, and passed in the Lame Duck session, the law resolves any disagreements over whether local governments may collect storm-water fees from the federal government, as is expressly authorized by the Clean Water Act. S. 3481 passed the Senate on December 21 and passed the House on December 22. NLC supported the bill.

If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121.

Very truly yours,


William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director


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