Dear Lafayette Community-
I hope this message finds you all safe, happy, and healthy. 2020 has been a year of many unprecedented challenges for all of us – from the COVID-19 pandemic to social injustice. Most recently, the City of Lafayette fell victim to a ransomware cyberattack that caused us to lose access to our network servers, and email and phone systems.
Ransomware is a type of cyberattack that encrypts data stored on computer systems and asks for money (a ransom) in exchange for a decryption key to unlock data. Negotiating with criminals and paying a ransom was not an option we were initially willing to take. Using City funds for this purpose was not taken lightly and was a decision I struggled with immensely. After extensive analysis of options, including the resources and time it would take to rebuild enormous databases – such as all utility accounts, vendors, payroll, etc. -- we decided to pay the ransom because it was the most cost effective solution to minimize disruption to providing services to our residents, restore data, and public services. We paid the cyberattackers $45,000 on July 31.
The Declaration of Local Disaster Emergency I enacted on Aug. 3, has allowed the City to access outside assistance from the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management, the Colorado Office of Information Technology, neighboring jurisdictions, and private contractors with the necessary technological expertise to aid the City of Lafayette in its response and recovery due to the severity and magnitude of the assault. We are now in the decryption and restoration phase of recovery from the cyberattack. The process to restore and rebuild is slow and labor intensive because each piece of data must be decrypted and restored back into newly created operating systems. Thank you for your patience as we work through rebuilding.
While we work to restore our computer systems, we have setup temporary phone numbers and emails to continue municipal business and have recently released more detailed information about residential utility billing. You can also watch a video message from Mayor Harkins about the cyberattack and read our full news release.
Rest assured, many of our City facilities are open. Our Lafayette Public Library offers curbside pickup by appointment and is a way for residents to pickup and return library books. Our Indian Peaks Golf Course, Bob Burger Recreation Center, Waneka Boathouse, and the Collective offer services in-person with COVID-19 guidelines in place.
I also want to take time to remind residents to continue with practices to slow the spread of COVID-19. Including wearing a face covering, maintaining social distance of 6 feet from others, washing your hands and limiting interactions with those outside your household. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you can and should get tested. Boulder County Public Health’s webpage is a great resource and includes a list of COVID-19 testing sites in Boulder County.
Recently, the City Council met to check in on the strategic priorities and projects they had identified early in the year before the pandemic hit. Council discussed today’s environment and the challenges that everyone is facing and how their roles as City Councilors have been impacted by COVID-19, race relations, and the recent cyberattack on City systems. Never has the need to communicate, assure our residents, and maintain core services in support of our community been more important.
Through strong leadership and solid management Lafayette has persevered - often better than other cities that had to cut services and lay off employees during these uncertain times. Yet there is still much work to be done. Diversity and inclusion remain at the heart of our core values and we need to consider the pressures and reality of today’s world on human services and the mental health impacts on our community. This extends to people and the small businesses that make up the fabric of our City.
Council discussed and added context to our Strategic Priorities, which are our guiding principles when considering policy, making budget decisions and how we provide services as your local government. I would encourage you to take a look at them, as Council and staff put considerable effort in making sure they reflected the values of our community.
Finally, Council also ranked areas of emphasis for the remainder of the year. They include:
Exploring the City’s public safety response and align them with community values and best practices
Determining an approach to increasing support for human and mental health services
Focusing on inclusionary zoning and mobile home park protections
Land use and development and increasing education and exploring how we shape and attract projects that reflect our diverse and unique character
Like recent public art displays placed in City facilities, I truly believe that “we are all in this together.” Lafayette is a strong and resilient community that always comes together to help and support one another, and for that, I am thankful and proud to be your City Administrator.
All my best,
City of Lafayette City Administrator