1/8/2021 4:01:00 PM Cass County Board: Over $572k Available from new MN COVID Relief Grant
By Kyndra Johnson of the Press-Citizen
BACKUS - Cass County recently received an additional $572,888 COVID-19 Relief Grant funding for disbursement within the county.
Commissioners at the Tuesday, Jan. 5, board meeting had lengthy discussions on eligibility requirements, funding amounts to eligible businesses and how to prioritize disbursements to area businesses.
County Administrator Josh Stevenson mentioned the three disbursement categories of the grant being as follows:
$2,000 for qualified applicants without a dedicated building or facility open to the public for operations.
$3,000 for qualified applicants with a dedicated building or facility open to the public and less than 30 employees.
$4,000 for qualified applicants with a dedicated building or facility open to the public and more than 30 employees.
The eligibility requirement on whether a business needs to be current on property taxes and any required licenses being valid and in good standing was discussed at length, noting some businesses may have had to make the decision on paying another bill over their taxes. One possibility was to deduct property taxes from the grant amount given, but Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane stated the grant would not allow for the county to deduct these expenses. The board decided to strike the requirement of being current on property taxes in order to be able to assist as many businesses as possible.
It was noted this grant is different from the recent grants that were automatically received from the Minnesota Department of Revenue or Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, as they do not require a business to be in operation for over a year. Those grants were calculated based off of Quarter 2 and 3 sales of 2019 versus Quarter 2 and 3 sales of 2020. Therefore, any new businesses or businesses under new ownership were not eligible to receive money from that grant. The grant available through the county will allow any new business or business under new ownership to apply for help and qualify. Also, per state requirement, this grant is not open to those businesses that have already received direct payment related to the Minnesota COVID-19 relief bill.
Another question was whether the businesses that did not receive any funding during the last round of grants should be first on the list for this round of grant disbursement. It was decided that priority funding would be given to businesses that did not receive any prior funding from the first grant. Therefore, commissioners approved an application that will be made available on the Cass County website, co.cass.mn.us, having two to three rounds of disbursements and a deadline of Feb. 16. The first round of disbursements would be awarded to all new applicants with the second round being awarded to remaining qualified applicants. If there are remaining funds, then a third round of payments would be made to the same businesses from the first round of payments.
Commissioners also voted Tuesday to continue limiting public access to county buildings through March 2. Stevenson stated even though there is a steady decline in positive COVID-19 cases, limiting access to public buildings would be consistent with the current executive orders from Gov. Tim Walz.