By Angeline Grenz
Cities and counties are stepping up to help residents get through these challenging times. Available programs can change daily, but here is what we know right now:
City of Fort Collins
Utilities: The City of Fort Collins has stated that no water or electric services will be cut off for nonpayment for the time being. They have requested residents who may be having difficulty paying their bills call 970.212.2900 to request assistance or make payment arrangements. For payment assistance, visit fcgov.com.
Small Business Relief: The City of Fort Collins has created the Fort Collins Small Business Relief and Recovery Loan Fund to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Colorado Lending Source Loan” in the subject line to find out more information. Eligibility and funds available are still being determined.
Additionally, the City of Fort Collins is working toward some solutions to help businesses who may not be able to pay their retail sales and use tax, according to M. Travis Storin, Interim Chief Financial Officer. Details will be communicated in advance of the April 20 filing deadline.
City of Greeley
City of Greeley has not made a public announcement at the time of press but had already turned water and electric back on for customers who had utilities shut off for nonpayment at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. They have also suspended any utility turn offs and late fees during the pandemic.
“We recognize this is a challenging time, and many people are stressed economically,” says Sean Chambers, director of water and sewer for the City of Greeley. He did not state how long the moratorium is in place.
City of Loveland
Utility service shut offs within the city of Loveland have been suspended through April 30. Late fees will not be assessed during this time period. The City of Loveland promises to re-evaluate the moratorium on interruptions as the pandemic continues. Visit cityofloveland.org for more details and COVID-19 announcements.
Larimer County Treasurer Irene Josey announced last week that Larimer County would temporarily waive delinquent interest on property taxes. The waiver applies to the first half of property taxes that were due March 2. The deadline has been extended to April 20, which will enable residents, who may have difficulty paying the full amount by the end of April, to pay the first half of the property taxes. The second half is still due June 15. Previously, if the first half was not paid by March 2, then the full payment would need to be made April 30. Payments made after April 30 are still subject to delinquent interest at this time. Visit larimercounty.org for the full details.
On Wednesday of last week, Weld County Board of Commissioners approved some measures to give financial relief to small businesses in the form of a reduction in the interest charged on delinquent property taxes. Instead of the 12 percent per year interest for delinquent property tax payments, if those payments and interest are paid in full by October 31, 2020, businesses and residents will only pay 1 percent interest.
“We know our business community and our families are facing economic pressures due to COVID-19,” said Commissioner Chair Mike Freeman in the letter. “We want to help as much as we can when they’re faced with figuring out which bills to pay first or which employees to keep on staff.”
Others Following Suit
Berthoud has announced they will waive late fees and suspend water shutoffs for utility accounts for March and April until May 26. They have also created an opt-in program for local businesses to defer utility payments until June or July.
The Town of Windsor has passed an ordinance that defers sales tax returns from February 2020 through June 2020 for eligible sit-down restaurants, bars, brewers, and coffee houses in Windsor. They are also offering a refund of February 2020 paid sales taxes so that the payment can be deferred. Find more information at windsorgov.com.
Local municipalities are also wading through the provisions of the recently passed $2 Trillion Stimulus package. It may take some time to decipher all the provisions and what exactly implementation looks like. Keep up with your city and county press releases to see what further help is offered over the next 30 days of the current Stay-At-Home Order.