MALINTA — Village council Monday heard from Henry County Emergency Management Agency Director Tracy Busch on how the disbursement of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will work on the county level.
Busch said he is currently in the process of visiting local municipal meetings to provide information, but, starting today, the county’s website would feature an application for small businesses to apply for grant funds for expenses related to COVID-19. He said the first round of funding would be applied to businesses that annually gross less than $1 million and have less than 30 employees, with priority placed on businesses that have yet to receive relief.
Busch said a second round of funding is anticipated in the future, which could potentially provide a larger amount of available funds. He noted the deadline for this first phase is being done as quickly as possible, with a July 21 deadline, so the approved businesses are likely to receive relief by the end of the month.
“The goal is to make everyone as happy as we can,” he said. “We know a lot of businesses are struggling. That’s a fact.”
Busch said the amount available as business grants will be determined once qualifying COVID-related expenses for the health department and county are covered. On Monday, he estimated the county would be able to place approximately $200,000 aside for the program.
In mid-June, Henry County Auditor Kevin Garringer reported the estimated amounts to be available for the county overall would be $934,687. The county itself was estimated to receive reimbursement for up to $467,342, with Malinta estimated to be eligible for up to $6,748.
To be eligible for the funds, the governing body of a political subdivision must pass a resolution to accept such funding, establish a line item/fund specifically to track that money and register on websites pertaining to the program. Malinta approved a resolution to accept the funds at its previous meeting, and, on Monday passed a line item resolution as an emergency, suspending rules requiring three readings.
Busch said qualifying expenses can be accounted for as early as March 1 for the village. However, Busch said he received confirmation the funds cannot be used for school district purposes. He said this was specifically explored due to potential guidelines being placed on bus routes for the reopening of schools this fall.
Through this program, any money not encumbered as of Oct. 15 must be returned to the county, and any money not spent by Dec. 28 must be returned to the state treasury. Busch said if there is unused money Oct. 15, it is returned to the auditor, at which point 25% of those funds will go to the county, and the other 75% will be distributed based on the consideration of other requests received by municipalities/townships.
Prior to addressing Malinta Council, Busch said he spoke to Hamler Village Council, and he said he is available to help people in the county with the program. He is also making recommendations for entities to reserve unused funds for the purpose of bolstering the grant opportunities for local businesses.
“I can’t tell you how to spend this money, I’m just making some recommendations,” he said.
Similar to the county’s approach, Busch said the village should do what it needs to cover its COVID-related expenses. Once those are covered, the village can elect to earmark the remaining funds to pair with what the county is offering to cover utilities, mortgage costs and other expenses for approved businesses.
Busch said multiple templates were reviewed to create a four-page application available on the county website. He said the application is a fillable .pdf document that was designed to be “as simple as possible.” An applicant must also provide items such as profit-loss statements, number of employees or proof of mortgage costs, as requested.
Busch said he receives completed applications, which will be reviewed by an established committee that includes members of the Henry County Community Improvement Corp., Henry County Chamber of Commerce, the Henry County EMA and Henry County commissioners, along with others.
If the committee were to receive an application from a small business in Malinta, and Malinta offers a share of its funds, the committee can make a recommendation to support a village business using part of the village’s share and provide a difference of the approved award from the county’s fund. That recommendation would be presented to village council for action at that time.
Busch said only grants are being done, with no loans considered. He added, while the overall CARES program covers expenses incurred through the remainder of the year, this business grant program would only cover expenses up to 30 days beyond the receipt of the grant.
In a discussion on how the Village of Malinta could leverage the CARES Act reimbursement funds, the purchase of new computers was discussed as many meetings are currently being conducted virtually. The village has already considered the purchase of a new computer as the current equipment runs on an operating system that will no longer be supported with security updates.
Council also discussed the possibility of installing poly-glass in the village office at the clerk/treasurer desk.