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EDC stimulus plan advances

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A financial assistance plan the Bandera Economic Development Corp. put together for Bandera businesses hard hit by closures and other constraints imposed in the battle against the coronavirus is moving forward under simplified rules established by Bandera City Council last month.

The Bandera EDC board met on the $100,000 business stimulus package on Thursday, May 7, and reached broad agreement that the program should stick to the guidelines established April 28 by council rather than adding a series of questions for applicants that the EDC board originally had planned to include in the review, said EDC Board Member Laura Devenport.

The EDC’s attorney advised the board that the additional questions were not necessary to get the $100,000 package allocated and that a resolution approved by council on allocation details should guide the EDC in its review of applications, Devenport said. That resolution determined

That resolution determined that all businesses within the Bandera city limits that pay sales taxes to the city would be eligible for funds available under the initial stimulus plan, which is funded by revenue the EDC had budgeted this year but that had gone unspent.

Businesses deemed “non-essential” under the rules established to fight the coronavirus would be eligible for up to $2,500 in aid, while “essential” businesses which were allowed to continue operating under strict controls while others shut down could receive up to $1,000 in assistance.

The amount appropriated to each business would be determined by how much in sales taxes the business pays to the city for a year or the amount they pay in rent or mortgage times two, plus their monthly utility costs.

The payments could be used to pay the businesses’ mortgages, rent or utility bills that went unpaid or partially paid because of the recent economic downturn.

Devenport said this week that about 40 Bandera businesses already had applied for assistance but that some of those might not qualify based upon where they are located and whether their sales taxes go to the city.

The EDC is still accepting applications for the assistance at Bandera City Hall, 511 Main St. and through the corporation’s email address, www.banderaedc@gmail.com.

EDC President Toni Kunz said she also hoped to develop a way to let all the businesses in town know the assistance is available so they can see if they qualify.

“I don’t want anybody to be left out,” she said.

Councilwoman Lynn Palmer, who also is a member of the EDC board, said she agreed that the council’s resolution established the appropriate framework for the stimulus plan to proceed, but she also hoped all the EDC board members would be allowed to examine the applications to make sure the assistance if going where it’s needed most.

The entire board is expected to have the opportunity to review the applications, which city officials hoped would take place soon.

“I agree with the need to get things moving,” said Devenport. “These businesses are hurting.”

City Council had agreed to consider establishing a separate stimulus fund to boost the revenue available to the EDC to aid struggling businesses, but it decided at a Thursday, May 7, meeting to see how helpful the first round of aid is for local businesses before deciding how much money to allocate to the effort.