‘It’s likely there will be further amendments to this’ says county commissioner
A list of rules and requirements for a small business grant program, to be implemented using millions of dollars of federal relief money through the CARES Act passed by Congress, was approved by the Platte County Commission on Monday, June 22.
Platte County is in receipt of a little more than $12 million in federal COVID-19 relief money. Commissioners have indicated they want small business grants to be the priority as it works to distribute the money, though at this point the commissioners said they have no estimates on how many applications for the grants might be received from the county’s estimated 10,000 businesses.
The federal government has specified that the funds are to be used for “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Those necessary expenditures can be in the form of a program “providing economic support to those suffering from employment or business interruptions due to the COVID-19-related business closures.”
Under the county’s program, all grants shall be awarded at the discretion of the county commission.
The Platte County EDC has been contracted to administer the grant application procedure and will be paid by the county using CARES money. A three member advisory committee will make recommendations to the county commission on which grants should be approved. That three member committee consists of Shane Bartee, an attorney from Weston; Scott Fricker of southern Platte County who is also a member of the Platte County Board of Equalization; and Duane Soper, a former county commissioner who is a banker in Platte City.
Platte County Commission was still making adjustments to rules and regulations of the grant program on Monday, just prior to approving the commission order establishing the program.
“It’s highly likely there will be further amendments to this,” said Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner.
On June 19, some local county officials were on a conference call hosted by the Missouri State Treasurer’s Office and the U.S. Treasury Department, and more than 170 other county leaders from across the state were on the line. The state treasurer’s office and the U.S. Treasury were providing guidance and best practices to the local government officials in regard to usage of the CARES Act funding.
Since receiving their funds, many local governments have requested further guidance on qualified COVID expenditures.
“The conference call was an opportunity for them to hear directly from the federal government,” said Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick.
County officials have said they’ll be promoting the grant program through the Platte County EDC, local chambers of commerce and other sources to get the word out to local businesses.
Some of the highlights of the regulations for Platte County’s program include:
*First priority for grant awards will be given to county residents who own businesses in Platte County. Second priority will be to out of county residents for expenses at their business in Platte County.
*First priority will be given to businesses that have not received any federal COVID-19 relief funding, such as Payroll Protection Program funding, SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan funding or funding from other governmental programs.
*First priority will go to businesses deemed “non-essential” under previous county or city health orders.
*Grant awards shall be based on reimbursement of payroll and generally accepted overhead expenses incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on June 30, 2020.
*Grant recipients shall provide a full accounting report to the county, including invoices and other documentation, for all expenditures of grant funds, on or before March 1, 2021.
*Applicants must adequately demonstrate that (a) their revenue, expenses and net revenue were consistent and steady prior to the implementation of COVID-19 business interruptions and (b) their revenue, both gross and net, was reduced after the entry of the various public health emergency orders. Grant awards will be based upon replacement and restoration of the net impact on profit business interruptions pursuant to closure required under the various public health emergency orders.
It is also noted in the county’s order that documentation submitted by the business to the county “may be subject to disclosure under the Missouri Sunshine Law and be available for inspection and copying by any members of the public or media.”
Information about approved grants, including the name of the recipient and the amount of the award, is considered public information and will be automatically available.
“Proprietary information supplied by an applicant during the application process which qualifies as a ‘confidential trade secret’ under Missouri law will ordinarily be exempt from disclosure under the Missouri Sunshine Law,” the county’s order states.
If a determination is made after grant awards that the applicant “has failed to disclose any material fact or has made a materially false or misleading representation, the grant applicant shall immediately return all grant funds to Platte County,” the order states.
Applicants are also made aware that all grant fund expenditures may be subject to audit by federal, state or county officials at any time in the future and “grant applicants shall cooperate with any state, federal or county requests for documentation or information.
MONEY FOR KANSAS CITY
The state treasurer had asked that $6 million of Platte County’s $12 million in CARES receipts be passed on to the City of Kansas City, based on the fact half of Platte County’s population is within the city limits of Kansas City. But the county has not yet agreed to distribute any money to Kansas City, and commissioners this week remarked they do not intend to do so until Jackson County has distributed its portion of Kansas City money to the city.
Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner indicated commissioners fear that giving $6 million to Kansas City before Jackson County has handed over its much larger amount would result in that $6 million being spent by Kansas City in parts of the city that do not lie within Platte County.
Clay County has already made its allotted distribution to Kansas City. On June 23, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Kansas City would use the initial portion of that money from Clay County to provide emergency rental, rehousing utility, or nutrition assistance to low-income households experiencing health or economic impacts from COVID-19 through Northland Neighborhoods, Inc. Lucas said another portion of the initial funds from Clay County will be used by the Economic Development Corporation of KCMO to provide grants of up to $50,000 to businesses in the Kansas City portion of Clay County whose operations have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.