April 15, 2020
Published on the first Monday of each month by Bob Yates, Boulder City Council
Note: The Boulder Bulletin is published monthly on the first Monday of each month. However, a special weekly issue of the Bulletin also is being published each Wednesday during the COVID crisis to keep the Boulder community apprised of the most recent local developments. The next weekly special COVID edition will be published on Wednesday, April 22, and the next regular monthly edition will be published on Monday, May 4.

Three of Eight
By Bob Yates
The most difficult thing I had to do in 25 years in the corporate world was to lay off employees. In early 2001, when I was the London-based president of the European division of Level 3 Communications, I was asked by our management to lay off 300 of the 1700 employees who worked for us throughout Europe. At the time, the U.S. and Europe were experiencing a significant recession, which was particularly bad for my company’s telecommunications industry. I flew to Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, and Amsterdam to deliver the sad messages to the affected employees in person. As difficult as that was, it turned out to be just the first of many rounds of layoffs that I had to make that year. About a month after the first 300 people were notified, I was instructed to lay off another 300, then another 200, then some more. By the time the decimating layoffs ended, my company’s European team had been reduced from 1700 people to 300. 
Yesterday, Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam announced the furloughing of 737 city employees, necessitated by impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. To put this in perspective, more than three out of eight city employees are being furloughed. Employees were told yesterday that their last day of work will be at the end of this week, and that the unpaid furlough will last until at least June 28. In parallel, the city manager committed that, by June 1, she will communicate whether the furloughs will need to be extended, or whether permanent layoffs will be necessary. Yesterday was a sad day for our community, which has been ably served by these dedicated civil servants. 
The furloughing of 38 percent of the city staff is a result of the devastation of city tax revenues caused by the shuttering of businesses and other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest city revenue losses are in sales, accommodations, and admissions tax collections, which provide more than half of municipal funding, excluding the water utilities. People are simply not able to buy clothes in stores or go out to dinner in restaurants; no sales tax is paid on purchases that don’t occur. Concerts and movies are cancelled, eliminating admission taxes. Visitors and tourists must stay home, depriving us of more than one-third of our sales tax receipts and nearly 100 percent of our hotel accommodations taxes. 
Exacerbating the challenge of losing so much revenue all at once is that fact that so many of our taxes were dedicated by the voters to specific purposes, which cannot be changed without another community vote. This deprives city leadership of financial nimbleness at a time when flexibility is most greatly needed. So, for example, if Open Space or the Municipalization endeavor have extra money, those funds can’t simply be re-allocated to pay the salaries of cops and firefighters. This is why dedicated taxes are generally a bad idea, the topic for another discussion.
As sad as it is to tell 737 fathers, mothers, wives, and husbands that they must stop working and that they will not receive paychecks, these cuts may not be sufficient to... 
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Next special weekly COVID-19 issue April 22
regular monthly issue May 4

Council Meetings & Study Sessions

Unless otherwise noted, all council meetings and study sessions and other meetings begin at 6:00 at City Council Chambers, second floor, 1777 Broadway. Information current as of first Monday of the month, but subject to change.

View agendas here.

Tuesday, April 21: Regular Council Meeting 
COVID briefing & response; fracking moratorium; neighborhood speed management; ballot petitions

Tuesday, April 28: Special Council Meeting 
COVID briefing & response; city revenue impacts & budget adjustments

Tuesday, May 5: Regular Council Meeting 
COVID briefing & response; Marpa House landmarking or Hill Hotel concept plan

Contact Bob 
Voice Message: 720.310.5829
Office: 1777 Broadway, Boulder (email in advance for appointment)
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