by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — In a work session last Monday, the Trinidad City Council took a look at using first quarter marijuana revenues for the “disbursement of aid…”, with the idea in mind of using “… $500,000 from the funds to give aid to local businesses.” This plan would, of course, require the consent of the city council, according to a draft proposal given to the city council before last Monday’s work session.
First quarter collections of marijuana sales tax by the city for the first quarter of 2020 is estimated to be around $536,000. With half-a-million-dollars going towards aid, the remaining $36,000 will be used to cover employee wages. The proposal would also require the council suspend the policy of allocating 65 percent for projects, 5 percent for outside non-profits, and 30 percent for the rainy day fund.
The proposal was put together by city staff in part as an effort to avoid removing money from the rainy day fund in the anticipation that we may need to use a portion of those funds for future city operations, “depending on how this situation (the current COVID-19 emergency) plays out.”
The proposed plan would consist of three tiers of funding
Tier 1 funds would be used for critical agencies and disbursed as follows: $65,000 to Mt. San Rafael Hospital to cover to months of utility bills. The South Central Council of Government would receive $25,000 that could be used to offset added costs incurred for staffing and transit to deliver Meals on Wheels and Care and Share food boxes to all part of the county. They are also adding several new early morning bus routes to Walmart and Safeway for seniors to shop.
The Las Animas County Health Department and Emergency Management would receive $10,000 for use in providing needs as required during the pandemic.
Tier 2 will see a total of $300,000 to support locally-owned businesses. The funds will be disbursed in amounts ranging from $500 to $1,500 based on set criteria. The disbursement is aimed at the following three categories of businesses affected.
• Businesses that were shut down by Executive Order, including, but not limited to, bars, theaters, restaurants unable to re-tool for take-out operations, gymnasiums, hair or nail salons, spa, tattoo or massage parlors.
• Partial shut-down of businesses that are operational with take-out service.
• Voluntary shut-down of business because it is more economical to shut-down than try to operate.
Tier three will be allocated $100,000 and would be used for employees who may have been laid-off or had their hours cut. These requests will be capped at $250 each. The idea is to supplement the applicant’s utility bill as much as possible thus defraying some of the costs while keeping the utilities on. The plan calls for taking an average of the past 12-months utility bills and grant, based on that, up to $250 dollars.
Forms to apply for business assistance are available at city hall. Call first before going there. The number is 719-846-9843, follow the prompts.