The COVID-19 pandemic hit our community quickly and has affected us in many ways. As I write this, we are starting to see encouraging signs and hear about potential roadmaps to bring us back to some sense of normalcy, but, Auburn, it is more crucial than ever that we continue to take precautions and practice social distancing. If we do, we can get back to some variation of life as we knew it before the pandemic.
Through all of this, I know our future is bright. I know that because of how Auburn people have responded to this crisis with the caring hearts, sound minds and brave spirits that I have always known them to have. Whether you have asked for help or are lending a hand, our community has unified to show compassion for one another and carry each other through this uncertain time.
Your local government has also responded swiftly, taking measures to safely continue the services you rely on, provide relief to local businesses and taxpayers and create an atmosphere that protects employees and those they serve.
As things have changed on a weekly — sometimes daily — basis, it has been my priority to keep Auburn families abreast of developments, occurring locally and statewide. I want each of you to have the information you need, and I have worked to provide that through videos on the City’s social media, in addition to the wealth of information that staff is posting online. My hope is that these videos inform you and remind you that we are in this together, that your local leaders and government are working hard on your behalf.
There are a number of measures we are taking to help. At this time, you don’t have to worry about your water being cut off should you need extra time to pay your bills. Services will not be disrupted because of late payments, and late fees will not be charged through April 30.
Business owners can rest easy knowing that if they are unable to pay their February, March and April 2020 sales, use, lodging, rental and leasing taxes, they will not be charged penalties for late payments through June 1. Small businesses can also take advantage of a new program, the Working Capital Loan Interest Subsidy Program, which provides interest subsidies to applicants approved for a loan through a participating financial institution. More information can be found at auburnalabama.org/coronavirus/business-resources.
To provide unemployment help, we launched a Workforce Action Center, where City staff are available to assist you in filing a claim for unemployment online. Call 334-501-1308 to ask your questions about workforce-related needs and get help moving toward a successful future.
In other efforts, the City has closed all public playgrounds, basketball courts, the skate park, tennis courts and the Martin Luther King Park bocce ball court through April 30. Trails remain open in Auburn’s parks, but, per state law, groups of 10 or more cannot gather and we all must maintain the 6-foot social distancing standard. Remember, following this law not only protects you, but protects those in our community with whom you may come in contact. City facilities are also closed to the public, but you can conduct any business you have online, by email or by phone. Online resources can be found at auburnalabama.org.
If you have any questions, you can call our helpline, operated through the Auburn Public Library and created to get you through this time. We know there have been and will continue to be questions about resources and the city’s response to COVID-19, and I encourage you to call and let staff help. Just call 334-501-7307 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to provide excellent services to Auburn residents while allowing you to shelter at home to the best of your ability. We have even gone virtual with our City Council and Planning Commission meetings and offer ways for the public to register to “attend” online to speak during public hearings. Of course, everyone can tune in via live stream through Facebook and YouTube.
We will get through this together, and I believe wholeheartedly that our best days are ahead. I remind you to keep your hands clean, your heads clear and your spirits calm.
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