Headlines September 7, 2021
Boulder County Commissioners Seek Public Input On ARPA Funds
The Boulder County Commission will be holding a virtual town hall this Thursday, September 9th, from 5:30 to 7 pm to garner ideas from the public on how to best spend the remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds coming to the county. According to the county’s press release, commissioners and staff will explain during the town hall how the federal funds will work and what they can be used for. The funds come from the U.S. Treasury Department, which also limits use of the funds to a set of specific criteria. The Town Hall event will be translated live into Spanish and American Sign Language.
Last week, the Boulder County Commission released a Recovery Plan progress report describing how COVID-19 relief funds have been invested to date. Boulder County was allocated roughly $63 million [dollars] from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, a provision of the American Rescue Plan Act, that was enacted on March 11th. Per the county’s press release, the commissioners approved an initial allocation of $5 million of the American Rescue Plan Act funds and have continued investments for emergency needs that began in 2020.
Boulder County residents can sign up for Thursday’s town hall at boco.org/BOCC_Town_Hall. Residents may also provide input by filling out an online survey at bouldercountysurvey.com.
Xcel Energy Plans Power Outage For Wednesday Night In Nederland, Ward And Jamestown
The utility provider Xcel Energy will be conducting a planned power outage starting 11pm tomorrow night and ending approximately 1 am on Thursday for 5,000 customers located in the town areas of Nederland, Ward, and Jamestown. According to the Daily Camera, maintenance work on a transmission system is prompting the planned outage as crews need to safely repair and maintain equipment. The Daily Camera also reports that impacted customers who have supplied Xcel Energy with their phone numbers, should expect a reminder phone call from the utility prior to the outage.
Colorado Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Medicaid Mental Health Services
Three unnamed teenagers and their families are plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit that was filed last week against the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing alleging the state has failed to provide federally-mandated services under Medicaid for children with mental health or behavioral health disorders. The lawsuit claims that the state is failing to provide federally-mandated services under Medicaid for children diagnosed with a mental health or behavioral health disorder.
The Denver Post reports that the lawsuit hopes to force the state to find a solution for providing care to all of Colorado’s children and youth who need it. In some cases doctors have recommended Intensive Home and Community-Based Services (IHCBS) to correct or amend their disorder, but the state has been unable to find such placements. The purpose of IHCBS is to serve children, youth and families with the most disabling mental illnesses or serious emotional disturbances in community settings rather than institutional settings.
The state, according to the lawsuit, prefers to rely on hospitals, emergency rooms and other acute care facilities rather than the more appropriate placements in residential treatment facilities. The lawsuit claims that the State of Colorado system of mental health care for children that most children are released from facilities with little or ineffective follow-up community mental health care causing them to repeat the cycle of institutionalization. A news release from Mental Health Colorado notes that Colorado is 42nd nationally for frequency of youth mental illness and access to care.
Aurora Launches Mental Health Response Team For 911 Calls
The City of Aurora will be launching a six month pilot program that will send a team of mental health professionals instead of police officers to 911 calls involving mental health situations. The city’s 911 dispatch will be responsible for assigning what mental health related calls the team will respond to. According to reporting from Denverite, Aurora’s program will operate on a similar basis to Denver’s program called Support Team Assisted Response also known as STAR. STAR has responded to more than 1,600 calls since it began last summer.
The Denverite also reports that the Aurora Mobile Response Team will include a clinician from the Aurora Mental Health Center and a paramedic from Falck Rocky Mountain. Falck Rocky Mountain will provide the vehicle for the response team which is expected to operate on a limited basis from 10 am to 7 pm, Wednesday through Saturday. The Aurora Mobile Response Team will focus on northwest Aurora based on call volume research from Falck Rocky Mountain.
Colorado taxpayers can expect a sales tax refund and a temporary break on their income taxes
In the coming months, Coloradans are expected to get a sales tax refund and a temporary income tax cut as a result of the annual revenue limit required under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights or what is commonly known as TABOR, the 1992 voter approved constitutional amendment. Local governments may also receive reimbursements under the constitutional tax revenue cap. Colorado Newsline reports tax revenues to the state’s coffers for the fiscal year that ended June 30th were over 8% more than the previous fiscal year as the state experienced better-than-expected tax revenues due to recovery conditions under the coronavirus pandemic.
Under TABOR, Colorado can only retain and spend an amount equal to the previous year’s tax revenue or TABOR spending limit, whichever is lower. The annual revenue limit under Colorado’s constitution also makes adjustments for population growth, inflation, and any voter-approved tax increases. According to the state’s preliminary calculations, state taxpayers who filed single returns will receive an average sales tax refund of $69 and $166 for joint filers. The state controller will release final numbers after a post audit annual comprehensive financial report later this year.
Larimer County Opens Two New COVID-19 Testing Sites
Starting today, Larimer County will have two new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites open from 8 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday, as Colorado attempts to better identify spread of the contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has contracted Mako Medical to operate the testing sites. The locations will be in Loveland, at the parking lot of Foundations Church, located at 1380 N. Denver Avenue, and in Fort Collins, at the parking lot of Timberline Church, 2908 Timberline Road. According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, testing is available for those age 2 and older, with or without symptoms. An appointment and health insurance are not required to receive a test.