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    Councilman Colonna Named Chair Of Central Cities Council Of Nat'l League of Cities

    (Jan. 14, 2005) -- Third district Councilman Frank Colonna has been selected to Chair the Central Cities Council of the National League of Cities.

    "Transportation, community development programs and homeland security are some of the key challenges facing our cities and towns. I am looking forward to addressing big issues in the upcoming year," Councilman Colonna said in a written release from his office.

    Colonna recently retuened from a three-day NLC leadership meeting in Phoenix, at which the group developed the League's 2005 legislative agenda and strategies for working with the new Congress.

    A January 11 press release describing the Phoenix meeting on the NLC web site says in part:

    Transportation, critical community development programs, homeland/hometown security and upcoming tax reform are the key challenges facing cities and towns in the 109th Congress this year...

    Concluding a three-day leadership summit in Phoenix, Ariz, this weekend, League officials expressed concern about the potential impact on funding for programs used and needed by cities and towns to provide a range of services to their constituents given growing Federal deficits...

    "The economic stability of the United States starts at the local level," said NLC President Anthony A. Williams, mayor of the District of Columbia, "and we want to make sure we support Congressional activities to protect our constituents and their needs."

    "For businesses to grow and thrive, we have to have good housing for our workforce, thriving arts and cultural opportunities, good schools, and adequate transportation systems," said NLC First Vice President James Hunt, Council Member from Clarksburg, WVa. "We need to partner with Congress and the Administration to ensure we have the resources to address congestion, fund a range of community development projects and address the security needs of our towns and cities."

    Meeting with 25 mayors and council members from across the nation, the League developed its 2005 legislative agenda and strategies for working with the new Congress. The group included the officers and chairs of most of NLC’s committees.

    A key concern expressed was the upcoming effort to address tax reform. The group spoke forcefully in support of tax simplification but urged caution over any efforts to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes and exemptions for municipal bonds. "This could actually become a tax increase for millions of Americans who itemize their deductions," Williams said. "We will continue to watch this effort very closely and will communicate this message to our Members of Congress and the new tax reform panel."

    Also high on the NLC advocacy agenda is the upcoming rewrite of the telecommunications act and telecommunications tax modernization. Cities, towns and states rely on the $18 billion in revenues from a range of telecom taxes to pay for police, fire and emergency management personnel as well as other municipal services. NLC President Williams is part of an ongoing effort to work with the telecom industry to ensure that any proposed changes to the tax status not effect the economic viability of towns and cities.

    The group also agreed to seek support for the continuation of the Community Development Block Grant Program as a redevelopment and revitalization tool for cities and towns. "This program has been absolutely critical to the success of key economic development and revitalization efforts for our cities and towns," said Indianapolis, Ind Mayor Bart Peterson, Second Vice President of the National League of Cities. "We are eager to work with our congressional representatives to ensure these types of programs remain viable, flexible and funded appropriately."...

    The National League of Cities is the nation’s oldest and largest organization, and represents 18,000 cities, towns and villages serving 225 million people in the country.

    The National League of Cities' Central Cities Council, established in 2002, is comprised of the nation's largest cities; Councilman Colonna previously served as one of its vice-chairs.

    A release from Councilman Colonna's office said in part, "With the appointment, Colonna becomes a part of Washington D.C. Mayor [and NLC President] Anthony Williams' 2005 national leadership team and will play an active role in supporting the League’s leadership priorities for the year."

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