Routt County extends COVID-19 disaster declaration
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Board of Routt County Commissioners unanimously decided Tuesday to extend the local disaster declaration for 30 days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The declaration was set to expire Wednesday, June 10. Following the vote, it remains in effect through July 9.
The disaster declaration qualifies the county for reimbursement funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, explained Routt County Assistant Attorney Lynaia South. As the amended declaration states, the cost and magnitude of responding to and recovering from the pandemic has been “far in excess of the county’s available resources.”
“This also falls in line with the continuation of disaster declaration the governor has been doing,” South told the commissioners.
The move comes one day after Gov. Jared Polis took similar action to extend a Colorado-wide disaster declaration. As the amended declaration states, “we must continue taking aggressive action to minimize the duration of this epidemic and of the disruption to our daily lives.”
The state order directs the National Guard to “support and provide planning resources to state and local authorities.” It also transfers an additional $23 million from the controlled maintenance trust fund, which is part of the TABOR reserve, to the disaster emergency fund.
During the meeting, Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton said the county continues to allocate funding to local pandemic response, despite the gradual reopening of businesses and services.
“We are in the recovery phase of the disaster, but we are still in it, and we are still expending money,” Melton said.
Commissioner Doug Monger expressed concern the county might not receive the full amount of reimbursement from FEMA.
When it comes to how much money the pandemic has cost Routt County, things get complicated, Melton explained.
Since March, the county has incurred about $243,000 of expenses that are eligible for a 75% reimbursement from FEMA’s community assistance program. The state is allocating an additional $2.2 million to disperse among Routt County and its municipalities through the CARES Act, Melton said. Additional money is being allocated to special districts, such as area schools and fire departments. Officials will continue to seek more funding as it becomes available.
To date, the state has allocated $92 million toward COVID-19 response efforts, according to the disaster declaration. Of that, $88 million has gone to the disaster emergency fund, earmarked for pandemic response activities. Another $3 million has been spent to provide short-term rental and mortgage assistance for low-income families impacted by COVID-19. The remaining $1 million has gone to expedite the allocation of unemployment benefits.
Polis is scheduled to give an update on the state’s response to the pandemic at 1 p.m. Friday.
To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.
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