GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Alpine Bank is lending a hand to furloughed federal workers in the area who are without pay during the partial U.S. government shutdown.
Officials with the Glenwood Springs-based bank announced Friday that $13 million has been set aside to provide interest-free paycheck loans, through any of its locations, to federal employees on the Western Slope who have been impacted by the shutdown.
“These are not faceless bureaucrats,” said Glen Jammaron, president of Alpine Banks, at a Friday press conference in Glenwood Springs.
“Rather, they are our friends, neighbors and important contributors to our community,” he said.
Instead of pointing fingers about who’s to blame for the congressional impasse over a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2014, “We would rather do everything we can to help the struggling local federal workers and their families,” Jammaron said.
Workers do not need to be an Alpine Bank customer to receive a loan, he said. They just need to present their last government pay stub and identification, and “we’ll get to work,” Jammaron said in a prepared statement announcing the temporary loan program.
“They can pay us back when the government shutdown is resolved,” he said.
The bank will also defer payments for any federal workers who have Alpine Bank credit card accounts.
Alpine Bank offered the same assistance in 1995 and early 1996 during the last federal government shutdown. Workers were furloughed during that shutdown for more than 20 days, not counting holidays and weekends.
The current shutdown began Oct. 1, affecting 800,000 federal workers nationwide who were placed on furlough without pay until the budget impasse is resolved.
In Garfield County, scores of workers, including a majority of the area’s U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management employees, are impacted by the shutdown.
“As a bank, we feel this is good for our community and good for our customers,” Jammaron said. “For a lot of us, we don’t really think about the impact until these people are not there.”
If the shutdown drags out for an extended period of time, “we will have to see what the next step may be,” he said of the potential for a long-term shutdown as the stalemate in Washington, D.C., continued on Friday.
Alpine Bank shareholder Michael Chandler said he hopes other banking institutions across the country may follow Alpine Bank in offering assistance to federal employees.
“Today, these families just can’t wait until this all gets resolved, and there’s no reason that they should have to,” he said.
Including locations throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, Alpine Bank has 36 banking offices across the Western Slope of Colorado.
“As a bank, we feel this is good for our community and good for our customers.”
President of Alpine Banks