JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek City Council continues discussions on how to distribute more than $3 million the city expects to receive in federal coronavirus relief aid.
At an Oct. 19 work session, council members Erin Elwood and Stephanie Endres presented a plan to distribute the funds to target local small to medium-sized, brick-and-mortar businesses and local nonprofits.
Their plan called for awarding grants on the basis of a two-tier system.
Tier one would include businesses that were forced to close operations by the governor’s orders addressing health concerns. Tier two would include businesses that faced some negative impact from the orders but were able to remain open in a limited capacity. Tier two would include operations such as restaurants and certain retail stores.
Qualifying businesses would be required to be in good standing and have proof that they were in operation prior to the pandemic and continue to remain in operation.
Councilman John Bradberry said the proposal contained the core of something good the city could do, but he would like to see retail and restaurants moved up to tier one status.
“It is not a perfect plan,” he said. “I think it’s really important that we not make the perfect the enemy of good.
Councilman Lenny Zaprowski noted his concern that the council was picking winners and losers.
“To me, it’s a little too restrictive,” Zaprowski said. “I do think there are a lot of businesses that are affected that are not on this list.”
Bradberry countered that the criteria and requirements to receive the grants is the only way to get the targeted relief that the CARES Act addresses. Elwood added that there are businesses that could operate and hold meetings online, while others could not.
Councilman Chris Coughlin said he doesn’t think the city should pick winners and losers, but there are identifiable businesses that took the brunt of the hit from the government-mandated shutdown.
Assistant City Manager Kimberly Greer said that adding more businesses or shifting businesses to different tiers will alter the grant amounts. She said she will present the council with both options at the next work session.
Greer also said she would take the feedback and create a sample application and form to go out to businesses for the council to discuss at their next work session on Nov. 2. If the council can come to an agreement on the details, she said, the city could hope to have applications back at the end of November and distribute grants in early December.