ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - The city of Aspen has laid off 12 employees, and it is eliminating four other positions to cope with plunging tax revenue. The cuts Thursday are expected to save $1.36 million.
The city previously cut $2.4 million in its 2009 general fund budget, which included eliminating or freezing 20 positions and laying off nine employees.
In February, the city froze employee salaries and eliminated or reduced some benefits and bonuses to save about $1.4 million. Salaries also are being frozen for 2010.
Through July, sales tax collections were down 18 percent from the same time last year, while lodging taxes were down 27 percent. Building and planning fees were down 46 percent through August compared with last year.
Center wants money to care for orphaned bears
Three volunteers from the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation rehabilitation center near Silt went before the Aspen City Council this past Monday asking for $5,000, which is roughly the cost of taking care of the young, motherless bear cubs.
"These are Aspen's bears," foundation volunteer Lindsay Smith told the council while flashing a large photo on the screen in council chambers.
The rehab center took in two orphaned cubs from Basalt after the DOW euthanized their mother. The rehab center has taken in 11 bears so far this year.
The DOW doesn't provide any financial assistance to the rehab center.
Swine flu suspected in school absences
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Fort Collins school officials suspect that swine flu is responsible for a rash of absences at two middle schools.
Poudre School District officials say the absentee rate at two Fort Collins middle schools was as high was 20 percent last week. But school officials say they don't know for certain how many students have contracted the swine flu.
The Center for Disease Control says about 97 percent of reported flu cases right now are swine flu.
The district says they don't have plans to cancel classes.
Colorado State University officials in Fort Collins also said last week that they're dealing with an increase in swine flu cases. CSU's health center verified 45 swine flu cases on Wednesday alone.
Bear attacks horse at Aurora boarding facility
AURORA, Colo. (AP) - Wildlife officials say a 500-pound black bear attacked a horse at a private boarding facility in the southwest Denver suburbs.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife says the horse suffered deep cuts on its neck and claw marks on its side. DOW spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill says the bear will likely not stay in the area and that it may have gone back to the mountains where it came from.
Officials believe the attack may have happened sometime between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday at a facility near Buckley Air Force Base, about 16 miles from Denver.
Churchill says this type of attack is rare and that the animals may have spooked each other in the dark.
The horse, whose name is Cody, is expected to recover.