Gainesville City Commission approves $3.2 million COVID-19 relief package

The Gainesville City Commission voted to move forward with a $3.2 million relief package that will benefit low income neighbors and small businesses with less than 50 employees. 

“We know this will not solve everything,” Mayor Lauren Poe commented. “But hopefully it will be of short-term help. We still need to finalize some details Monday, but if all goes as planned, we should be getting money into peoples’ hands by mid-May.”

The commission ran out of time and was unable to address the current COVID-19 Emergency Orders and Reopening Plans item on the agenda. That topic will be discussed during the April 27th meeting which starts at 3 p.m.

The commission also passed an equity toolkit with the intent to “make sure the folks who need help the most are prioritized,” according to Poe.

The relief package will be funded by combining general funds, Community Development Block Grant  funds (CDBG), Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)  funds slated for economic development  and  “old money for the police precinct that never got up and running,” according to City Manager Lee Feldman.

The motion was passed as follows:

  1. Accept the GNV Cares general direction and funding sources

  2. Change the GNV Neighbors from 6 months to 2 months, and $2,500 to $1,250 to allow more people to access the funds.

  3. Remove “and if unemployed, proof that they have applied for unemployment benefits.”

  4. Have staff bring back suggestions for adding art nonprofits that rely on ticket sales for their revenue.

  5. Have staff come back on Monday meeting with suggestions for further clarifying loss of revenue to make sure that we are helping those businesses most in need.

  6. No double dipping for GNV Cares Business.

 Poe said that he wants mom and pop businesses to be able to access the funds. “I much prefer it be directed to local, homegrown businesses than national chains,” he said. “They (chain businesses) already have a support system that standalones don’t.”

According to Feldman the GNV Cares about neighbors is designed to assist with rent or utility payments and the GNV Cares about businesses will provide grants of up to $5,000 for businesses located within the City that have a current business tax receipt.

Feldman said the goal is to, “Provide immediate relief to both our neighbors and businesses in the community.”

The effort will be launched after the Monday, April 27 meeting, Feldman said. Details about applying for funds will be spelled out at that meeting.

“My goal is to get checks written out May 11,” Fledman said. “The first Monday of the second week of May. 

“My staff have pretty much have dropped everything they are working on,” Feldman said about how these initiatives are a priority.

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