Owners of small businesses in the City of Dalton that have taken a big hit in revenue because of the new coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) could get some help from the city government.
The City Council voted 3-0 on Monday to approve an amendment to its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to create a Small Business Stabilization Forgivable Loan Program. Mayor David Pennington typically votes only in the event of a tie, and council member Gary Crews was absent.
The program will be funded with $150,000 from the $255,543 in Community Development Block Grant money the city received under the CARES Act that was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March as well as $50,000 in unused funds from the city's Minor Home Repair Program.
Dalton Chief Financial Officer Cindy Jackson said the loans will be available "to certain for-profit businesses with 50 or fewer employees that can demonstrate that revenue has decreased 30% or more due to the COVID-19 crisis."
The amount of the loan is up to $15,000 per business. If someone owns multiple businesses he or she can only apply for one loan.
"The no-interest loan will be forgiven over a two-year period," said Jackson. "The use of the funds are restricted for the specific purpose of rehiring or retaining low- and moderate-income person jobs."
The application is available on the city's website (https://www.cityofdalton-ga.gov/) or at the front entrance of City Hall.
The city's Community Development Block Grant program is under the Finance Department, so Jackson will oversee the awarding of the loans.
Jackson noted that the city's Community Development Block Grant program office has overseen in excess of $6 million in federal funds since the inception of the city's program in 2004.
This new loan program is on a "first-come, first-served basis so the application will be dated and time-stamped when received," Jackson said. "Eligibility and grant purpose is straightforward in the application. It is important that all paperwork is completed since it is on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are exhausted. We've already received one application that had none of the requested information attached so we had to contact them and let them know they will have to resubmit the application with all required information.
"Businesses that receive the funds are required to submit monthly reports to the CDBG program office providing proof that they have used the funds for retention/rehire of low-moderate income employees. If proper reporting is not submitted, then the funds will be due back to the city. The CDBG program office will work with the businesses to ensure that they understand the process before funds are awarded to individual businesses. We want this to be a successful and seamless program for our small businesses."
Asked why the "first-come, first-served" process was chosen, Pennington said, “I don’t know any other way to do it. This was the way the payroll protection program (under the CARES Act) was supposed to work. It looks like that’s not how it was handled. But I think this is the most fair way."
The city will also allocate $54,434 for food delivery. Jackson said the details of that program are being worked out but it will be administered by city staff.
Community Development Block Grant is a Department of Housing and Urban Development program targeted at urban areas with low incomes and high poverty that funds anti-poverty efforts, infrastructure construction and programs to reduce blight.
Council members also voted 3-0 to:
• Purchase the property at 310 W. Waugh St. from Fordham Properties for $190,000. Officials plan to use that and adjacent properties already owned by the city for a stormwater control project.
• Approve a contract not to exceed $9,000 with Lowery and Associates of Cartersville to perform a topographical survey of the Prater Alley stormwater basin. The council had previously approved a contract with Arcadis of Highland Ranch, Colorado, to perform a study of the Prater Alley stormwater basin.
"There have been several documented cases of flooding downstream of City Hall and at the intersection of Thornton Avenue and Waugh Street in recent years," said Public Works Director Andrew Parker. "This study will evaluate the current stormwater infrastructure system capacities with hydraulic modeling in an effort to develop a plan for a flood mitigation project to help provide some relief to affected properties."
• Approve a special use permit for a medical clinic at 1906 Shields Drive.