Trinidad City Council approves COVID-19 emergency assistance for local businesses

by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — Trinidad City Council passed the second reading of an emergency ordinance with a 7-0 vote during their regular meeting last Tuesday. The ordinance allows the city to give out financial assistance to local businesses and residents who are dealing with the flattened economy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the second emergency assistance package the city council has enacted so far. With the passage of the emergency ordinance in December the city began accepting applications from businesses, with 100 applying for the help just a month into the program.

The city has allocated $242,100 so far. That breaks down to $114,600 in utility credits and $127,500 in cash stimulus. Most of the businesses are returning businesses from the spring 2020 emergency assistance program. Only seven out of the 100 businesses that have applied are new to the program.

Qualifications for a business to take advantage of the program were discussed, with the mayor saying that the business has to be vetted to see if it is open in order to receive the money.

Some council members wanted to know that if a business was not operational due to COVID, if their doors are shut and not operating, but the owners are ready to come and open it up, is the business qualified for the program.
Wally Wallace, the city’s economic development director said a line has to be drawn. “We should be supporting a business that is actually open and operating.”

The program has also attracted 49 applications from city residents, said finance director Cheryl Navarette. “We had to change the application to help filter applicants better and this caused a glitch. Applicants need to use an iPad or computer to apply.”
The city will be giving out a total of $500,000 in the second phase of the program. The remaining balance is $257,900.