At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council took the next procedural step towards getting $2 million worth of already-collected food and beverage tax revenue, into the hands of the private sector.
The goal is to provide bridge funding for local employers and employees who have been impacted by the COVID-19 viral epidemic.
The bridge is supposed to span the time it will take for more robust federal aid to land in local hands.
Based on the timeline sketched out on Wednesday by city controller Jeff Underwood, the money could be ready for distribution as soon as the end of next week, April 10.
The steps involved would include a city council approval of the appropriation at its second reading at a Tuesday, April 7 meeting.
The appropriation would then need a final sign-off by the Indiana Department Local Government Finance, which Underwood hopes to get by April 10. At that point, the money would be available, Underwood said at Wednesday’s meeting.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bloomington area local businesses can now seen on charts and graphs.
The pandemic has spiked the county’s initial unemployment claims to four times the number seen during the highest week of the 2008–2009 economic downturn. Even higher numbers could be recorded next week. Unemployment numbers are released on Tuesdays.
In addition to fresh unemployment figures, this Tuesday brought a first detailed look at Bloomington’s effort to use $2 million of food and beverage tax money, as well as other funds, to provide economic relief to businesses and workers .
In a press release issued Tuesday morning, the United Way of Monroe County announced the distribution of nearly $300,000 in grants to area non-profits to help them as they respond to the local impact on critical human services needs from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also included in Tuesday’s press release is the announcement by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County of more than $30,000 in “rapid response” grants to nonprofits, to help with supplies, equipment, remote-work technology and staffing.
A third announcement in Tuesday’s press release comes from the Bloomington Health Foundation (BHF), which contributed $25,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, coordinated by the United Way. BHF also matched $25,000 worth of individual contributions to that fund.
At its Friday afternoon meeting, the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC) unanimously approved a request to use $2 million in already-collected tax money to assist businesses inside the city of Bloomington that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Added together, Bloomington and Monroe County’s respective shares of unexpended food and beverage tax revenues, collected countywide since early 2018, stand at around $5.7 million.
In separate actions over the last week, Bloomington and Monroe County elected officials have taken steps towards appropriating $2.2 million of that money for relief of businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s gave a noon address announcing a stay-at-home order as a way to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus.
A couple of hours later, elected and appointed officials from Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana University, and IU Health, held a virtual press conference.
During his turn, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, referred to the necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a “marathon, not a sprint.” He quickly revised that description: “We’re in a marathon that starts with a sprint.”
Part of the sprint is a resolution approved last Wednesday by Monroe County commissioners, to make a request of the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC). If the FABTAC gives its approval, the county would be able to use $200,000 of already-collected food and beverage tax revenues for economic relief of local businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Bloomington now looks like it could make a similar request of the FABTAC. It will likely be for a larger amount, because Bloomington receives 90 percent of the food and beverage tax revenues. The county receives the other 10 percent.
Over the weekend, Bloomington’s public bus agency, announced that its downtown transit center’s indoor waiting area would be closed starting Monday (today), because of concerns about transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic virus.
The downtown transit center’s closure eliminated one option that passengers had for paying the $1 fare for Bloomington Transit buses—sales of bus tokens at the customer service desk inside the center.
Now, the task of buying fare media for public buses in Bloomington has been eliminated, at least for the time being.
Indiana University’s director of media relations, Chuck Carney, hosted Friday’s Zoom conference call with the media.
The COVID-19 case map from the Indiana State Department of Health’s website on Sunday, March 22, 2020. The Monroe County case did not appear until Sunday after it was reported by a private lab to a local health provider, Indiana University’s student health center. The lab has to report to the state before the tally is included in the state’s dashboard.
Early Friday afternoon, Monroe County’s health administrator, Penny Caudill,
sent out a press release announcing the county’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the pandemic virus that’s spreading across the world.
It was a student seen a week earlier by Indiana University Health Center, whose positive test was reported to the center just that morning.
The student, who lives off-campus, self-isolated for the week while the test was being processed. The student health center sent the test to LabCorp, a private lab in Burlington, North Carolina, according to the student health center’s medical director, Beth Rupp.
The COVID-19 infection that was reported on Friday appears to be a case contracted in Monroe County. Rupp told a group of reporters on a Zoom video conference call on Friday that the student had not travelled recently and had no known exposure.
Rupp confirmed that LabCorp reported the positive result to the health center on Friday morning. Rupp said her first step was to contact the patient. After that, the student health center notified Caudill, as Monroe County’s health administrator.
Cheryl Munson, county councilor and vice president of the food and beverage tax advisory commission.
Steve Volan, Bloomington city councilmember and president of the food and beverage tax advisory commission.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local area businesses has prompted a special meeting on Tuesday next week (March 24) by the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC) to consider a request from Monroe County’s board of commissioners.
In a news release issued by the United Way on Tuesday afternoon,
nearly 30 area non-profits, private businesses and governmental units have announced the launch of a fund to support human service needs during the COVID-19 viral pandemic.
Tuesday morning, Indiana’s department of health announced a second death due to the COVID-19 pandemic virus and six additional confirmed cases in the state of Indiana. That brings the total confirmed cases in the state to 30, double the number three days ago, with just 159 people tested statewide.