Basalt awards $60,000 to businesses for aid during COVID pandemic |

Basalt awards $60,000 to businesses for aid during COVID pandemic

Scott Condon, Aspen Times

Basalt has awarded $60,000 in grants to businesses to help them weather a winter filled with uncertainty because of the COVID pandemic.

The town government recently provided 37 grants, averaging about $1,690.

“The $1,690 was given to all grantors who requested $1,700 or more,” said town Finance Director Christy Chicoine. “There were a few who requested less and those were fully funded.”

The funds came through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Funds were awarded to Pitkin and Eagle counties for distribution among municipalities within their jurisdictions. Basalt received $222,467 from Eagle County and $59,914 from Pitkin County.

One of the multiple ways Basalt used the funds was through a COVID-19 Small Business Mini-Grant program. It was open to any Basalt for-profit business with an active business license that could show they had expenses related to the virus.

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“Some businesses proposed using the funds for tents, patio heaters and to improve social distancing within their establishment,” Chicoine said. “Others used it for personal protective equipment, rental assistance and general business expenses. All 37 businesses who received the funding showed a need for the funds based upon closures and other business impacts from COVID-19.”

No applications were rejected because all businesses met the criteria. Some nonprofit organizations applied but were steered to another town program.

Basalt’s economy far exceeded expectations during the summer. When the state government issued a stay-at-home order in March, many business owners and operators feared the worst for the summer. But as restrictions eased, business boomed.

The town’s October sales tax report said that year-to-date sales tax collections were up 15.3% over the same period in 2019. The town collected $5.54 million in sales tax revenue at that point compared with $4.81 million last year.

The November sales tax report is expected this week. Because of the lag in paying sales tax, the November report will reflect actual sales in September.

Despite the strong summer, business operators are wary about winter. COVID-19 cases are rising throughout the region, as they are through most areas of the country. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has warned Eagle County that stricter rules on gatherings will be mandated if the county’s incidence rate of COVID cases remains high. That could mean restaurants and retail shops would have to reduce the number of patrons inside at one time to 25% of capacity.

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