Basalt scores $282,000 in coronavirus relief funds
FACE COVERING EXTENSION
Basalt extended its requirement for people to wear face coverings in public places for another month to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The council voted 6-0 to extend the requirement. However, the council extended it for just one month rather than indefinitely, as proposed by staff.
“I am not in favor of the indefinite,” said Councilwoman Elyse Hottel.
The people who feel the requirement for face coverings infringes on civil liberties will say an indefinite extension is municipal overreach, she said.
The council decided to reconsider the need for the masks on July 28.
“This is something we know some of our biggest retailers are supportive of,” said town manager Ryan Mahoney. The requirement allows employees to point to the requirement by the town government.
Basalt will receive about $282,000 in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds through Pitkin and Eagle counties, according to intergovernmental agreements approved Tuesday night.
The town will receive $59,914 from Pitkin County and $222,467 from Eagle County, according to a memo from Town Manager Ryan Mahoney to the Town Council.
“The Coronavirus Relief Fund, which was mandated by the U.S. Congress as part of the federal CARES Act, allows local governments to receive reimbursements for necessary expenditures that were not accounted for in the current municipal budget,” the memo said. The expenses must occur between March 1 and Dec. 30. The funds go to the counties, then shared with municipalities. Basalt is located in both Pitkin and Eagle counties.
The town already has a long list of the ways it anticipates spending the funds. The biggest ticket item is $60,000 for the Basalt Bucks program, which provides a $20 voucher per household that is good at participating businesses.
Other expenditures include $50,000 for mental health programs at the Aspen Hope Center; $30,000 for the Family and Medical Leave Act; $20,000 for public outreach on COVID-19 issues and stimulus support; $10,000 for community food distribution programs; $10,000 to the Aspen Community Foundation to be distributed to five nonprofit organization serving the midvalley; $7,000 for personal protection equipment and sanitation steps; and $6,000 for concrete structures to allow restaurants to expand seating in parking areas.
The town staff anticipates having another $75,000 to spend on community and business support to be determined. That would leave about $13,000 for other allowable expenses to be determined.
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Basalt town government officials feared the worse when the coronavirus struck and soured the economy. They figured the town coffers would suffer a huge blow. Instead, sales tax collections have surged above the amount at this time last year.