|County discusses adopting small business relief grant program
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
The Montgomery County Fiscal Court discussed adopting a small business relief grant program like the one put in place by the city of Mt. Sterling at its workshop Jan. 5.
Commissioners Jack “Rackle” Adams and Melody Townsend said they met recently with Mt. Sterling Mayor Al Botts about the program and came away impressed.
The program allows the city to offer business relief grants of up to $1,000 to aid in the recovery of their operations amid the current COVID pandemic.
Adams and Townsend agreed that such program could be beneficial to the small businesses in the county.
“We as a Fiscal Court need to reach out and try to help these small businesses,” Adams said in the presenting the idea to other members of the court. “I think it would be a great thing for the court if we could do that.”
Townsend, a small business owner herself, said the county should be there to support struggling businesses.
“We care about businesses and want them to do well and thrive,” Townsend said. “This is a small gesture to show their county leaders care about their businesses.”
Fellow Commissioner Billy Ray Fawns and Judge-Executive Wally Johnson both expressed their support after Townsend and Adams explained their idea.
Townsend presented them with a draft proposal modeled after what the city of Mt. Sterling adopted in December.
Under the county’s resolution, recovery funds are awarded to successful applicants for paid expenses incurred beginning March 13, 2020, and during a period of a mandated shutdown or closure. Proof of these payments was required.
The deadline to apply for the county grants would be the close of business 4 p.m. Feb. 10.
The county resolution set forth funding criteria.
Under the county’s resolution eligible businesses included:
• Retail (general, specialty)
• Barber/beauty salons
• Small businesses closed by the governor’s executive order.
Adams cited Levee Legends restaurant as among those businesses that could benefit from such a program due to lost business during the pandemic.
Non-eligible businesses under the county resolution included:
• Home occupations
• Real estate companies/agents
• Finance/accounting/bookkeeping/tax firms
• Food trucks
• Not-for-profit organizations
• Landlords/rental property owners
Eligible expenditures under the city’s plan include:
• Rent/lease/mortgage payments
To be eligible in the county, a business has to meet several criteria:
• Exist within county limits in a brick and mortar location (zoned for business, professional or industry-residential based businesses are not eligible)
County officials said under their proposal businesses in the city would not qualify for the county grants. There would be no double dipping, they said.
Businesses in Camargo and Jeffersonville are eligible as well.
Other eligibility requirements include:
• Own the property/building or have a lease arrangement with the property owner.
• The county requires that the entity be current on Montgomery County property tax payments; have reported all payroll and net profits taxes to the Montgomery County Tax Administrator; and has met all requirements mandated by the Secretary of State to operate in the State of Kentucky
• The county defines a small business as:
A) Net profit income for 2019 of no more than $100,000 for businesses with less than 10 employees, supported by the presentation with your business tax return, K-1 and/or schedule C (Form 1040).
B) Open and operating before March 13, 2020, or newly opened and operating after that date and subject to full or partial closure due to executive order
• Not be a franchise or franchise affiliated
• Be categorized as a non-essential business type that was required to case or significantly reduce operations as a result of the executive orders issued by the governor and has been compliant with this order
• Business must be listed in the eligible business category and still in operation.
Under the county’s program the maximum amount of funding assistance was $1,000 for full-time business and $400 for a part-time business. Priority will be given to full-time businesses.
Botts and city treasurer Laura Tipton reviewed the city applications. To date, the city has approved nearly $20,000 in small business relief grants, according to the mayor. For details on the awards, see story on Page A3.
The city was able to fund the program from the general fund that was made possible when it received CARES Act money for police dept. payroll, the mayor told the city council previously.
The city had originally set aside up to $50,000 to fund the program.
County officials discussed the possibility of raising the grant amount to up to $1,500, but are considering a proposal from Fawns to make it a two- phased program in which the county could award more money later.
The rest of the court expressed support for Fawns’ proposal.
The city is also discussing adopting a phase 2 of the program for any businesses who missed the first opportunity to apply, Botts told the Advocate.
Townsend, a financial planner, offered to assist Mary Wilson, county treasurer, in reviewing county applications. Adams volunteered to assist in the process as well.
Wilson said she would be more than willing to assist in any way she can.
“Anything we can do to get our businesses back on track and back open again I think we should do,” she said.
Wilson said she also supports the two-phased program.
County officials discussed setting aside $25,000 or $30,000 to start the program.
“The goal here is to help businesses that really need it,” Townsend explained.
Assistant County Attorney Nik Fegenbush, who participated in the Zoom meeting, said he would work with Townsend on drafting a proposal to be voted at the regular Fiscal Court meeting Jan. 19..
He said the resolution should be designed so t