COVID-19 hits Englewood finances; damage limited

City projects revenue shortfall of at least $1.6M

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Despite non-essential businesses being closed due to the pandemic for two months, Englewood officials remain confident the financial impact of COVID-19 on the city won’t be severe.

Sales and use taxes collected from Jan. 1 through May 31 total $13,289,414 and are 40.7% of budgeted revenue for the fiscal year, Englewood documents read. The fiscal year for the city was 41.7% complete as of the end of May, and around 61% of general-fund revenue in Englewood stems from sales and use tax.

April sales and use taxes collected in May were around $180,000 below the same time frame in 2019, according to Englewood documents.

“Our sales and use tax revenues are tracking just below what our expectations were,” said Englewood Finance Director Maria Sobota. She presented the sales and use tax revenues at a June 22 Englewood City Council meeting.

Englewood had some one-time payments from year-long audits that helped partially offset modest declines in overall sales and use tax revenues.

Sobota is projecting a net revenue shortfall of at least $1.6 million for the year — a projection that hasn’t changed since Colorado Community Media spoke to her about financial impacts of the pandemic in April.

“We haven’t seen anything more substantial than that — but the (Englewood Parks, Recreation and Library Department) is the biggest concern I have right now,” she said.

The Englewood Parks, Recreation and Library Department is responsible for managing the Englewood Recreation Center, Malley Senior Recreation Center, Englewood Public Library, Pirates Cove Water Park, Broken Tee Golf Course and the parks division. From Jan. 1 to May 31, department revenues of $260,908 were 9.6% of the city’s budgeted revenues. During the same time period of 2019, the department’s revenue was $567,291.

Pirates Cove Water Park and the Englewood Recreation Center are the city’s parks, recreation and library department’s top revenue strengths. The city typically brings in $2.4 million in revenue annually from the two facilities, according to Christina Underhill, director of the Englewood Parks, Recreation and Library Department. But from Jan. 1 through May 31, Englewood has only brought in 14% of that number because of COVID-19 forced closures.

Recreation centers throughout the state were closed for over two months until the beginning of June when the state announced reopening guidelines. Englewood Recreation Center and Malley Recreation Center reopened on June 15 at a limited capacity while Pirates Cove Water Park opened on June 19. Pirates Cove Water Park typically opens on May 23.

The Englewood Recreation Center is allowing visitors through a reservation system. Before COVID-19, the recreation center was serving 300 residents a day — but now that number is down to around 75 residents, Underhill said.

Pirates Cove Water Park is allowing 250 visitors in two-hour time slots three times a day. Underhill said the time slots have been selling out — but before the pandemic, the water park saw 1,600 visitors a day. The water park can host a total of 750 people a day when it sells out.

Underhill said Pirates Cove Water Park is slowly bringing revenue in, but the city still doesn’t know the full impact the pandemic will have on projected revenue for the Englewood Parks, Recreation and Library Department.

“We don’t anticipate meeting our revenue that was budgeted. If we do, we’ll be lucky,” said Underhill.

Englewood isn’t expecting to have to lay off or furlough any city employees, Sobota said. Englewood City Council is currently in the process of creating its 2021 budget.

“I think we’re in a place where we need to watch all of our expenses. But overall, I am pleasantly surprised our sales and use tax revenue hasn’t taken a bigger dip than it has,” said Englewood City Councilmember Joe Anderson.

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