HEROES Act aims to bring $24.8 million to Summit County and its towns
DILLON — In April, members of the U.S. House of Representatives — including Rep. Joe Neguse, of Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District — introduced the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, which was meant to provide $250 billion for communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, this act has been incorporated into the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, which ups the dollar amount to a total of $375 billion. The HEROES Act passed in the House of Representatives on Friday, May 15.
The original CARES Act, which was signed into law March 27, excludes communities with populations under 500,000 from receiving direct support. During a press call Tuesday, Neguse said nine out of the 10 counties in his district, including Summit County, did not qualify for direct funding under the CARES Act due to the population limit. However, Neguse noted that many of these counties are experiencing the effects of the pandemic in pronounced ways due to high infection rates, such as in Eagle County, and heavy impacts to the local economies.
“It is absolutely critical that we provide economic relief for every city and town in America,” Neguse said.
The act aims to bring aid to local governments to address revenue shortfalls and keep first responders and other essential workers like firefighters, police and public school teachers employed. The act also includes funding for the U.S. Postal Service, homeless assistance, hazard pay for front-line workers and other places of need due to COVID-19. Neguse also said the funds from the HEROES Act can be used as revenue replacements, which is not allowed under the CARES Act.
Based on estimates, the act would allocate more than $11.6 million in aid to Summit County in 2020 and over $5.8 million in aid in 2021. The town of Frisco would receive an estimated $1.5 million in total aid this year and next, and Breckenridge and Silverthorne would each receive over $2 million. Dillon would receive about $480,000, Blue River would receive over $450,000, and Montezuma would get over $33,000. The total funding brought to Summit County and its towns would be $24.8 million.
“From Fort Collins to Broomfield to Boulder, cities are having to make very hard decisions, and at the end of the day, these are not red cities, they’re not blue cities — they are American cities,” Neguse said. “This virus does not discriminate from urban America to rural America to suburban America, which is why it’s so important for us to get this done.”
While the bill was passed in the House, there is no timeline when it will be voted on in the Senate. Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, who was on the press call, explained that local government aid is particularly important in Colorado due to the reliance of Colorado cities and towns on sales tax revenue.
“In Colorado, our city revenue is heavily dependent upon sales tax, and those revenues have significantly declined while businesses have shut down,” Troxell said. “By our charter, we must balance our budget.”
Assistant Speaker of the House Ben Ray Luján said the introduction of the Coronavirus Community Relief Act was compiled with urgency to help governments stay afloat and to provide essential services to keep communities safe. The HEROES Act funding would be used to keep “first responders, teachers and public servants on the payroll.”
“Standing up for local governments should not be partisan. In fact, this is a bipartisan bill,” Luján said, noting that the Coronavirus Community Relief Act has 149 bipartisan cosponsors.
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