Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez told Council members Wednesday evening that “probably the biggest thing” they can do right now is to persuade constituents to comply with Boulder County’s stay-at-home order.
The City Council also heard during the emergency meeting that the city is estimating a $14 million revenue shortfall this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the conclusion of an emergency work session, Dominguez emphasized the importance of the Council’s role in getting the community to comply, along with helping the business community and its employees during and after the crisis and the government restrictions that have been imposed.
That’s because at the end of the day, Longmont is not going to get through the health and economic crises solely because of actions by the federal and state governments, the city manager said. He predicted that “we will get through this if it’s done acting as a community.”
Council members — meeting virtually and electronically, with each of its seven members in a separate location, most of them appearing to participate from home — got work-session reports from Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach and several city staffers about what’s been done and what’s being planned by local governments, nonprofit agencies, business organizations and others in response to the pandemic.
That included presentations on such topics as the orders issued by various levels of government, local medical capacities for handling the disease, a business-assistance update, an individual-assistance update, help for the homeless, and rental and mortgage housing assistance.
“Our job is to prepare for the worst-case scenario, hope for the best and strive for the best,” Dominguez said.
Councilwoman Marcia Martin said she wanted to thank the Longmont public “for their creativity and compassion.”
Martin said that in recent days and weeks, she’s found that “people are coming up with cracks in the safety net that I didn’t know existed,” but that community members also have been finding ways to fill those cracks.
Councilwoman Polly Christensen said the city needs to send out a positive message that “we will get through this.”
Councilman Tim Waters said, “Every time we meet, we hear a lot of worst fears” about what has happened and what may happen. He said that as Longmont issues public communications about the situation, “I’d like to share what our best hopes are, on the far side of this.”
As for enforcement of the closings of city facilities that preceded the county’s stay-at-home order, Mayor Brian Bagley and Councilman Waters both reported having recently observed golfers on two of the supposedly shut-down city courses, Sunset and Ute Creek.
Dominguez said the city has received “a lot of calls” about such situations and that parks and recreation staff will be working on achieving compliance.
Longmont’s policy in such cases, will be to “educate and inform” the public about closed venues and other restrictions before issuing summonses, Dominguez said.
City spokesman Rigo Leal said in an email before Wednesday’s meeting: “Since parks and playgrounds and shelters oftentimes all share the same space, city staff will be using caution tape and signage to help the public identify what is open and what is closed.”
City staff also is closely monitoring the financial impact that the local coronavirus pandemic might have on the projects, services and programs built into the $353.9 million 2020 Longmont budget originally adopted last October.
Jim Golden, the city’s chief financial officer, told Council Wednesday that based on assumptions of two full months of “severe impacts” on sales and use tax collections, followed by eight more months of a recession, the city currently is estimating a $14 million city government revenue shortfall this year.
“We have begun to alert staff to the shortfall and potential budget adjustments are being identified,” Golden said in a memo to Council.