Durango launches COVID-19 utility forgiveness program

Residents and businesses can apply

Qualifying residents and businesses will be able to get relief on their utility bills as part of a COVID-19 relief program through the city of Durango.

The city is offering up to three months of utility forgiveness for commercial entities and households that can show they’ve been financially impacted by the pandemic. The program, approved by City Council in January, is one of several COVID-19 relief efforts offered by the city in response to the pandemic.

“City councilors cast the net wide to help offset the financial impacts of COVID-19,” said Tom Sluis, city spokesman. “The immediate goal was to help business owners with direct grants from federal CARES Act funding, but they have directed the city to also offer relief by offering a utility bill credit for both commercial and residential customers.”

The program aims to help the most-impacted businesses. Commercial entities should be able to show they lost 25% of their revenue between March and December 2020. If a business opened in 2020 and couldn’t show a decrease, the business can still apply.

Businesses are eligible if they are Durango-based and up to date with sales tax submissions, and substantially impacted by closures and capacity limits. They also must be operating legally under local, state and federal laws, including public health orders.

Residents must meet income limits: Only households with “extremely low” to “low” incomes can apply. The application includes a chart to help residents see if they qualify.

The city could lose as much as $1.9 million in revenue from commercial entities during the three-month program. That number is likely an overestimate because it includes corporate entities that would not be eligible for the forgiveness program, according to city staff members.

The city would lose about $154,000 in utility revenue from its resident population, if everyone who is eligible applies, according to early estimates.

“It’s a priority for the city to offer as much help as possible during the pandemic,” Sluis said.

Applications for residents and businesses will be accepted through March 21. Funding is limited; credits will be offered until funding is exhausted.

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