COVID UPDATE: For the latest on cases in Colchester, which is not surprising considering our residential and employment populations as well as our location in the most populated county in the State of Vermont. This includes cases from Saint Michaels College.
Flattening the curve still matters. The longer we can prevent infections, the better prepared we will be to treat them. Bring masks with you when leaving your home, and wear them when around others who don’t live in your home. Wash your hands frequently and maintain physical distancing when around others who don’t live in your home.
Social Media: It is important to get information from reliable, credible sources. Misinformation and rumors can be common in rapidly changing situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage Vermonters to seek science-based information from trusted sources. Please do not post, repost, share, or forward information about COVID from second-hand, unconfirmed, or anonymous sources on social media.
Town Role in COVID-19 Response: Your Town staff continues to provide municipal services including rescue, fire, and police; maintenance of roads, paths, parks and buildings; library lending and programs; recreation programs; planning, zoning and permitting; Town clerk services; economic development and local public information. We support these services with vehicle and equipment maintenance, information technology, human resources, finance, assessor, treasury, and coordination of resources.
Colchester’s Emergency Operations Plan was updated by the Selectboard on March 17th. We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation since January 2020, and developed continuation of operations plans for municipal services. The plans help maintain the crucial services; help keep the public safe, and help maintain the capacity of our first responding public safety services. Also in March, we declared a State of Emergency under the Colchester Code of Ordinances Chapter 16, Emergency Management, to allow the Town to exercise emergency powers to help protect the public health and safety of our community.
We are also in regular communication with the Vermont Emergency Operations Center regarding conditions in Colchester and taking advantage of State and Federal resources when they are available.
Town Services: The Town follows the recommendations from the State of Vermont and the Centers for Disease Control as they pertain to the Town as an employer and a provider of emergency and municipal services.
The Town has reduced services and resources in some areas due to COVID-19. This is necessary because of reductions in demand and reduced fees for certain fee based services and the impact of Federal and State COVID-19 related work rules on service delivery. The Town receives about $7.5M annually or about 40% of its total annual revenue from non-tax fees. Town tax revenues through August 2020 are at normal levels. We are carefully attending to Town revenues, reporting to the Selectboard monthly, and will work carefully to align services with revenues. Services are more fully described in the departmental information below.
Colchester Town Offices at 781 Blakely Rd. are open to the public from 7:30 am to noon except for Town Holidays. Masks are required. We are available by phone and email in the afternoon. Our online services are available 24/7. Town Directory: https://tinyurl.com/Col-Town-Dir
We cannot allow entry to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to enter Town buildings. COVID-19 Symptoms include: Fever, Cough, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Chills, Repeated shaking with chills, Muscle pain, Headache, Sore throat, and New loss of taste or smell.
We thank you for your patience and understanding during this challenging time.
Information about changed services:
Town Newsletters with COVID-19 updates
Other Local Services & Updates:
- Colchester School District 802.264.5999
- Colchester Fire & Water District #2 (providing water only since July 1, 2020 )ANNOUNCEMENT CORONAVIRUS (PDF)
- Colchester Fire & Water District #3 (providing water only since July 1, 2020) ANNOUNCEMENT re. COVID-19 (PDF)
- Vermont 211: Dial 211 for a directory of state and non-profit human service programs
- Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development Resources for individuals on financial assistance, housing, and unemployment insurance.
- Weekly Summary of VT COVID Data: These summaries have shown that 69% of Vermonters who get COVID-19 have a known source of exposure — how they may have gotten the virus. Other topics include: duration of illness, outbreaks, information from emergency rooms and urgent care.
Vermont Vaccination Update
The Vermont Depart of Health is registering resident 30 and up for the vaccine. To register for an appointment click here.
The latest modeling from the State of Vermont https://dfr.vermont.gov/sites/finreg/files/doc_library/dfr-covid19-modeling-010521.pdf
Unemployment: During the current economic crisis caused by COVID-19, the unemployment rate rose extremely fast—but is now declining quickly, at least in Vermont and Colchester. Initially, the Colchester unemployment rate rose from 1.9% to 13.3% in two months. We are at 2.5%. Info on past downturns: https://colchestervt.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/693
The 2.5% unemployment rate only represents people who are actively looking for a job. The unemployment rate would not include people who cannot work due to lack of childcare or a variety of other reasons. From February 2020 to February 2021, the unemployment rate has gone up by 0.6% in Colchester, or 42 more people are unemployed. However, in the last month, from January 2021 to February 2021, the unemployment rate in the Town has decreased by 0.4%, which means 30 more people are working this month than last. Unemployment definitions: https://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm. National, State, County and Colchester Unemployment: http://www.vtlmi.info/laus.pdf
Local Resources for those in Need:
- Colchester Food Shelf 245 Main Street, Colchester, 802.879.2444 - Open Wed Noon - 6 PM
- Chittenden County Food Shelf 228 North Winooski Ave, Burlington, 802. 658.7939 - Open M - F 9 AM - 4 PM
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program offers free monthly boxes of staple foods to income-eligible adults over the age of 60. Call 1-800-214-4648 or find info at: https://www.vtfoodbank.org/share-food/csfp
- Vermont Farmers to Families Food Box Distributions: To reduce wait times and improve your experience picking up food, everyone is required to pre-register to receive food at a Vermont Farmers to Families event.
- Colchester Helping Colchester - Matching those in need of non-emergency assistance with volunteers for deliveries or other errands. If you are in need of assistance:
- Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program: The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is accepting applications for those who may have missed mortgage payments due to financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The State of Vermont received money through the Federal CARES Act to fund this program. Any homeowner living in Vermont as their primary residence who entered a mortgage before March 1, 2020 and missed payments since that date due to a COVID-19 hardship are eligible to apply. Additionally, income limits of up to $84,000 in 2020 or up to $21,000 in the last 90 days ($96,000 total income in 2020 or $24,000 in the last 90 days for homeowners in Chittenden County) apply. Homeowners are eligible even if the mortgage is already in forbearance or deferment.
Childcare for Essential Persons Childcare is available for those who have been deemed essential to the COVID-19 response. Workers in critical businesses and whom are working out of the home and do not have other options are eligible for child care.
WIC - Healthy food and support for you if you are pregnant or a parent or caregiver for a child under the age of 5. Call 2-1-1 or find info at the above link. Check if you qualify for WIC.
3SquaresVT (known nationally as SNAP) Available when we need a little help buying food. The program provides Vermonters funds on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card. EBT cards can be used to purchase food at grocery and convenience stores, co-ops, and many farmers markets. Call 1-855-855-6181.
AgeWellVT.org The leading experts and advocates for the aging population of Northwestern Vermont. Contact them to volunteer to be a Meals on Wheels Driver. They are always in need of volunteers, especially now. Contact Erica Marks at email@example.com
- Unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Vermont Department of Labor 800-983-2300.
- Vermont 211: Dial 211 for a directory of state and non-profit human service programs including financial assistance for those that have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. The loss of any individual is devastating but many have been accompanied by the hardship of paying for funeral services.
- US Department of Health halt on evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. September 4 - December 31, 2020 https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/04/2020-19654/temporary-halt-in-residential-evictions-to-prevent-the-further-spread-of-covid-19
Mental Health Resources:
- First Call For Chittenden County Serving clients and the community regardless of age or diagnosis. Trained staff is available 24/7/365, regardless of the type of service. Call for phone support, crisis intervention and assessment, referrals to appropriate services, and connection to follow-up care. Call 802-488-7777
- Coronavirus and Our Mental Health Sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Human Services.
- Mental Health: How to Get Help Sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Human Services.
New Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant:
A new grant program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, or RRF, is launching soon restaurants, brew pubs, food trucks, coffee shops, bars and many more. The new website www.sba.gov/restaurants shares substantial information on how the program will roll out, the application questions and the documents to prepare. For more information you can also click below.
Recent News from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development:
- ACCD hosted a webinar for businesses to discuss the Vermont Forward Plan and answer questions about the guidance and timeline. The webinar recording and slide deck are available at the ACCD Business Recovery Resource Center. Common questions submitted during the webinar focused on how to deal with vaccinated versus unvaccinated people, remote work, contact tracing logs, and management of events and gatherings.
- Vermont businesses continue to be encouraged to take advantage of the federal and sector specific financial assistance programs currently available, including: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) deadline was extended to May 31st. The Vermont District Office of the Small Business Administration continues to offer two weekly webinars on First and Second Draw PPP loans and PPP loan forgiveness.
- Vermont Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funding: A second round of sole proprietor grants, ranging from $1,500 and $10,000, are now open to qualifying sole proprietors on a first come, first served basis.
- Cultural Facilities Grants offered by the Vermont Arts Council provide awards of up to $30,000 to Vermont nonprofit organizations and municipalities to increase the physical capacity to provide cultural activities. Applications are being accepted through June 7th.
- The Vermont Department of Labor is seeking summer employment opportunities for Vermont’s young adults, and wants to hear from Vermont employers and business leaders interested in potentially providing work experiences (paid and unpaid) to Vermont youth and young adults this summer.
- Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development Resources for businesses including financial assistance, sector guidance on crucial business and unemployment information.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan for small business extended to December 31, 2021. For more information, click on the link.
- Contact regional business assistance providers and your bank/lender for alternative loan products and funding sources as well as access to free technical assistance for help navigating options currently available including:
- Small Business Debt Relief Program could help assist to keep up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan.
- SBA Express Bridge Loans may enable small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
- Small Business Administration’s funding opportunities available with Vermont-specific resources and guidance on the SBA application process and a checklist of financial documents needed to apply: https://www.vtsbdc.org/business-201-during-covid-19-2/
- Business Cash Flow tool to assess current cash flow, profit and loss, debt service, and expenses to give a fuller understanding of how loans might impact cash flow: https://www.vtsbdc.org/coronavirus/
Unemployment for self-employed, independent contractors, sole proprietors and others not typically eligible for unemployment insurance call (877) 660-7782, FAQ: https://labor.vermont.gov/pua-faqs; Eligibility info: https://labor.vermont.gov/PUA_Eligibility
- Restart Vermont a phased approach to reopening the economy, by the State of Vermont.
- Economic Recovery Grant program with grants for 51% women-owned and minority-owned businesses with one - five employees, including self-employed people.
- Guidance for apartment managers and owners.https://www.healthvermont.gov/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/COVID-19-Prevention-Apartment-Complexes-final.pdf
- Farm Assistance https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box
Local Volunteering Opportunities:
- Colchester Helping Colchester, matching those in need of non-emergency assistance with volunteers for deliveries or other errands. If you are interested in volunteering:
- Vermont Guide for Neighborly Best Practices for Helping During COVID-1
State-wide Volunteering Opportunities:
- https://www.vermont.gov/volunteer Help those Vermonters affected by COVID-19 by volunteering in the medical field via Medical Reserve Corps. Other opportunities exist by working as a grocery worker, daycare provider, driver, skilled laborer, etc.
- Vermont Guide for Neighborly Best Practices for Helping During COVID-19
Direct Federal Assistance via the American Rescue Plan Act
- Cash Payments: Immediate cash relief will be granted to individuals and families in the form of new $1,400 stimulus payments. Individuals earning up to $75,000, single parents earning $112,500 and couples earning up to $150,000 are eligible for the $1,400 payment, with the amount decreasing for individuals making between $75,000 and $80,000. Individuals earning more than $80,000, single parents earning $120,000 and couples earning more than $160,000 are disqualified from receiving stimulus checks. An additional $1,400 will be paid for each dependent of the taxpayer, including adult dependents (e.g., college students, parents). The amount of the stimulus check will be based on information in the taxpayer’s 2020 tax return if it has been filed and processed; otherwise, the 2019 return will be used. The amount of the check will not be taxable income for the recipient.
- Extended Unemployment Benefits: Weekly federal unemployment benefits (which apply in addition to any state unemployment benefits) of $300 will be extended through September 6, 2021. Additionally, the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance received in 2020 would be nontaxable income for workers in households with income up to $150,000. The extension also covers the self-employed and individual contractors (e.g., gig workers) who typically are not entitled to unemployment benefits.
- Child Tax Credit: The child tax credit will be expanded considerably for 2021 to help low- and middle-income taxpayers (many of the same individuals who will be eligible for stimulus checks), and the credit will be refundable. The amount of the credit will increase from the current $2,000 (for children under 17) to $3,000 per eligible child ($3,600 for a child under age six), and the $3,000 will be available for children that are 17 years old. The increase in the maximum amount will phase out for heads of households earning $112,500 ($150,000 for couples). Because the enhanced child tax credit will be fully refundable, eligible taxpayers will receive a check for any credit amount not used to offset the individual’s federal income tax liability. Part of the credit will be paid in advance by the IRS during the period July through December 2021 so that taxpayers do not have to wait until they file their tax returns for 2021.
- Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit will be expanded for 2021 to cover up to 50% of qualifying childcare expenses up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more children for 2021 (currently the credit is up to 35% of $3,000 for one child or 35% of $6,000 for two or more children). The credit will be refundable so that families with a low tax liability will be able to benefit; the refund will be fully available to families earning less than $125,000 and partially available for those earning between $125,000 and $400,000.
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The EITC will be expanded for 2021 to ensure that it is available to low paid workers who do not have any children in the home. The maximum credit will increase from about $530 to about $1,500, and the income cap to qualify for the EITC will go from about $16,000 to about $21,000. Further, the EITC will be available to individuals age 19-24 who are not full-time students and those over 65.