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Local Governments Furlough Hundreds Of Workers As Tax Revenue Tumbles

DENVER (CBS4) - As if the shutdown of thousands of businesses and loss of hundreds of jobs in Colorado isn't enough, coronavirus is now crippling local governments, forcing them to slash services and staff. Boulder has furloughed 737 workers; Fort Collins 600 workers and Louisville 218.

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"We have weekly call where we'll have 30+ mayors on the line from the metro area sharing ideas, sharing concepts, and maybe doing a little crying on each others shoulders," said Arvada Mayor Marc Williams, the Chair of the Metro Mayors Caucus.

He says municipality's biggest source of revenue is sales tax and less business means less tax.

The state surveyed more than 500 cities, counties and special districts in early April. On average, revenue was down $10.5 million, expenses were up $500,000, and 70% of them said their reserves would dry up by October.

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"As dire as those numbers look, we believe they're under-reported," said Kevin Bommer, Executive Director of the Colorado Municipal League. He says making matters worse is that only Denver and four metro counties have received any federal aid.

"Countless special districts are reliant on the state of Colorado to release $1.7 billion or part of it that it's sitting on."

Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse is trying to help. He's introduced legislation to provide $250 billion in aid specifically for local governments. He says he already has 150 co-sponsors, including Republican Congressman Scott Tipton.

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Neguse says it is crucial that Congress step-up.

"Behind these statistics are real people, real communities, critical public services like police and firefighters."

Williams says a grocery tax in Arvada helped soften the blow there, but he worries the worst may be yet to come.

"We're already starting to hear from our economic development association and our Chamber of Commerce and from restaurateurs directly-that they're not going to be reopening, and that's tragic."

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