WP Head Manager Outlines Steps Taken to Combat Coronavirus Crisis
~ by Bob Volpe ~
The city of Woodland Park has wrestled with many impacts since the coronavirus pandemic hit the nation and Colorado.
However, compared to other burgs in America, COVID-19 hasn’t not clobbered the “City Above the Clouds,” as bad as other municipalities. But the pandemic is hitting home harder every day.
Many cities across the country are in lockdown, hospitals are becoming overwhelmed with patients, the economy is in free fall, unemployment has reached historic 9-million cases and is expected to rise.
Here in Teller County and Woodland Park, we haven’t felt the devastating pain from the pandemic as many have, at least not yet.
Yes, we are experiencing high unemployment, empty store shelves, major inconveniences from our daily routines, and the stay at home order. But just down the hill in Colorado Springs, things are much worse. As of last week, COVID-19 cases in Teller county stood at 10, with one elderly person having died.
The city of Woodland Park is working hard in concert with the county to keep citizens informed and safe.
On March 17 Mayor Neil Levy passed an emergency declaration order and it was extended by city council on March 18 to go indefinitely or until the pandemic threat passes. This order opens the door for the city to apply for federal assistance should it be needed in the future.
Steps Taken by Woodland Park to Address the Crisis
According to Woodland Park City Manager Darrin Tangeman, the following are some of the steps the city is taking and plans to pursue during this crisis.
Three facilities closed on March 18th: Ute Pass Cultural Center, Woodland Aquatic Center, and Teen Center. The pool has been drained to reduce electricity and chemical costs during closure.
City Hall closed to public access on March 18, but is continuing to conduct essential business for the public including issuing remote permits for construction projects, business licensing, and collection of sales and use tax.
Many city employees are working remotely or in staggered shifts in compliance with the state-wide stay at home executive order for essential employees under Public Health Order 20-24.
Playground equipment and public restrooms in city parks are closed, but open space remains open with the stipulation of adherence to 6 feet of social distancing.
Thirty-four part-time employees were furloughed on April 1, primarily in Parks and Recreation Department until facilities are allowed to reopen.
Three police officers were quarantined involving calls for service with possible COVID-19 citizens and released from quarantine following negative test results. All law enforcement officers are currently equipped with personnel protective equipment (PPE).
Sales tax revenues have been up 14.33 percent in January and up 19 percent in February from the previous year, but the city anticipates revenues to drop for March once sales taxes are remitted on April 20.
The city has suspended penalties on sales tax remittance and utility bills until emergency declaration rescinded. No utility shut-offs will occur under the current emergency declaration.
Municipal court arraignments, first appearances or further proceedings were suspended on March 18 until April 22, or until the emergency declaration is rescinded.
The city continues to provide essential services, law enforcement, utilities, and public safety to the community.
The city is freezing general fund and street capital fund expenditures in the amount of more than $450,000 until more accurate revenue data can be gleaned from March, April and May revenues.
City staff is working jointly on many levels on Teller County’s COVID-19 response and recovery team.