2021 State of Our Cities & Towns: COVID-19

The 2021 edition of CML's State of Our Cities & Towns Report examines the operational and fiscal impacts of COVID-19. The 2021 report, which is based on results of a survey conducted in the fall of 2020 of cities and towns statewide, is being released as an interactive online data story (below) to provide a more visual narrative and encourage a deeper understanding of the municipal experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from the 173 municipalities that responded show that while the impacts of COVID-19 on operations, revenue, and local economies are as varied as the municipalities that responded, Colorado municipal officials’ commitment to serving their communities is universal. 


2021 State of our Cities and Towns data story


Key findings of the survey include:


Economic data: 

  • 51% of respondents report worse overall economic health and 46% report lower revenues in 2020 as compared to 2019. 16% report better overall economic health, and 27% report increased revenues. 
  • 41% of municipalities cut their general fund to balance their budget, including 7% who predict these cuts will be permanent.
  • 71% of respondents report a negative fiscal impact to their utility due to postponing utility fees and shutoffs.
  • 89% of respondents either have recovered or expect to fiscally recover within 24 months, 22% of large municipalities expect to take up to five years and 7% of small towns expect to never completely recover. 

Municipal workforce impacts: 

  • 9% of responding municipalities furloughed full-time employees.
  • 6% laid off full-time employees.
  • 13% reduced hours of full-time employees.
  • 34% have postponed filling vacancies for full-time positions, including 8% that have not filled 10 or more positions.
  • 10% eliminated positions.
  • 23% have frozen salaries. 

Municipal response to community needs:

  • 48% of municipalities offered direct financial assistance to businesses.
  • 69% deferred payment of bills or fines.
  • 16% expanded internet access or provided internet hot spots.
  • 21% increased services to people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, including providing food, rent or mortgage support, hygiene stations, and hotel vouchers.