Even though it’s physically located inside the Bloomington city limits, the Monroe County History Center is now eligible for a grant through an already established county government program that’s designed to support businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s the specific effect of a decision made at a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC). But the FABTAC’s decision applies to any entity “whose purpose and mission is to support the entire county in tourism related endeavors.”
What’s new for the county’s grant program is the suspension of a rigid geographic requirement that a grantee be located outside the Bloomington city limits.
Last Wednesday, Monroe County commissioners awarded about $21,000 more in grants to pandemic-affected tourism-related businesses outside the city limits of Bloomington. That brings the total amount awarded by the county to $266,442.
The food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC), has recommended that the county can use up to $400,000 of such tax tax proceeds to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Bloomington has a corresponding loan program for up to $2 million of food and beverage tax proceeds. Through last Wednesday, the city’s loan numbers looked the same as the week before—$939,600 has been awarded to 34 businesses. All of the submitted applications had been processed as of last Wednesday.
At Wednesday’s regular meeting of Monroe County’s commissioners, another $5,000 COVID-19 relief grant was made to a tourism-related business outside Bloomington city limits, using food and beverage tax proceeds.
The breakdown for Pili’s Party Taco’s use of the $5,000 grant is: $1,800 rent; $1,200 insurance (truck and supplies); and $2,000 for employee salaries.
At a Tuesday afternoon meeting, the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC) recommended another $200,000 for Monroe County officials to allocate to tourism-related businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That brings to $400,000 the total recommended by the FABTAC for the county’s COVID-19 relief program.
The county’s grant program for COVID-19 business relief is just for tourism-related businesses outside the Bloomington city limits.
The city of Bloomington has a similar program using its own share of the food and beverage tax proceeds, but the allocations to businesses inside the city limits are being made as loans, not grants. The city’s program taps $2 million from the city’s share of food and beverage tax proceeds.
The county council will have an ordinance on its May 12 agenda next week to appropriate the additional money recommended on Tuesday by the FABTAC. The following day at their regular meeting, the county commissioners expect to be able to make some additional grant allocations to businesses.
Some of the roughly $36,000 that now remains from a $200,000 appropriation of food and beverage tax proceeds could be distributed to other businesses on Friday at 3 p.m. That’s when the commissioners will resume their meeting. The Wednesday session was not adjourned.
President of the board of commissioners, Julie Thomas, said that the applications that might be considered by Friday had come in after a soft deadline.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners authorized a request to the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC ) of another $200,000 for COVID-19 business relief.
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.
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.