Businesses in Paonia will have another opportunity to receive Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funds thanks to a second round of grants approved by the town council.
Trustees unanimously approved retaining just over $16,000 in leftover COVID-19 grant money during their Sept. 28 meeting. Grants in the amount of $2,000 will be available to eight eligible Paonia businesses beginning next Monday.
“I think this is a great idea. I hope we can get business who would like to apply for this and be able to distribute these funds by the end of the year,” Mayor Mary Bachran told the board.
The grant application will be published on the town website and a social media post will be made on the Town of Paonia Facebook page. Town Administrator Corrine Ferguson said the announcement will also be posted on the utility bills and advertised in selected local media outlets.
To be eligible for the relief grants a business must have been in business as of March 2020, still be open in Paonia and be able to provide documentation to prove hardship created by COVID pandemic. Applicants can not have close family relation to any staff or board member of the town government.
The total amount retained by the town for the business grants is $16,193.58 which includes a $169.20 reimbursement from North Fork Senior Connection in unspent funds. The grant application process will begin Oct. 11 and run through Nov. 19.
“We kept the funds because when we did our last round of grants, we ended up with this pot of money left over. Last time we gave everybody who requested a grant, received a grant,” Bachran said. “We took what we thought were our extra funds and gave them to North Fork Senior Connections and they distributed them to people in the community for groceries, and paying utility bills.”
The town was notified upon turning in its receipts that it had not expended all its CARES Act funds and was given the opportunity to return the funds or use them for other needs. The police department recommended purchasing a high tech traffic sign with a speed radar and messaging board; however, the board voted against the purchase.
“The state had given us an arbitrary deadline that said we had to expend the funds by June 30, 2021. It was two weeks before the deadline so the board decided that they would give the funds back. Then it turned out that the state had provided incorrect information. It was the state’s desire that we do that but actually the federal requirement said that you could wait until the end of the year,” Bachran explained.
Bachran said the town decided to retain the CARES Act funds and make a decision on how to spend them at a later time. The decision to retain the funds and distribute them to local businesses was made during the last board meeting.
In 2020 the town gave out roughly $64,000 in grants which included approximately $10,000 to North Fork Senior Connections for community assistance.
As previously reported, there were 18 businesses that received grants ranging from $1,000- $5,000 in 2020. The funds came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) money that the town received from Colorado Division of Local Affairs (DOLA). To qualify for the funds, businesses had to be within the town limits and had to have been impacted by COVID.