Clovis approving CARES Act apps for about 80 businesses
Last updated 11/28/2020 at 6:22pm
CLOVIS — About 80 Clovis businesses are expected to see pandemic-related relief expenses from the CARES Act small business continuity grants. The city has approved applications ranging from a few thousand dollars to $100,000.
City officials said last week they have decided to cap awards at $100,000 and open a second round of applications so that more businesses might receive funding.
A list of applicants acquired by The News shows 13 local businesses will not see their full requested reimbursement amounts with a recently-imposed $100,000 cap.
The city received $4.26 million from the state to reimburse local businesses for pandemic-related expenses that include rent, employee wages and renovations to follow COVID-safe practices.
A task force created by the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce, acting on a contract with the city for $60,000 of those CARES Act dollars, put forth a list of 81 applicants and recommended amounts.
The News acquired the recommendation list through an Inspection of Public Records Act request to the city.
Morris said he made the decision to cap the awards at $100,000 after applications had been received and officials learned that a few businesses were going to receive a large percentage of the available dollars. The Clovis city commission did not vote on the matter after it was first discussed at a Nov. 19 commission meeting. Morris said businesses applying for more than $100,000 could still receive the funds, if they are available after the second round of applications.
The deadline to apply for the second round is 5 p.m. Friday. Applications are at clovisnm.org/CARES.
In an email to The News accompanying the recommendation list, Assistant City Manager Claire Burroughes explained the process developed by the chamber and the Small Business Development Center with input from the city.
The chamber sent emails and postcards to all registered businesses and nonprofits from a list provided by the city. The city’s finance department has reviewed applications with their supporting documents, then submitted them to the state for approval. Burroughes said following approval from the state, the city will send out notices of awards and funding to recipients, along with a press release to the public advising of the recipients. It wasn't immediately clear when the state might approve the recommendations.
“As I am sure you understand,” Burroughes said, “the process has been a lengthy one out of necessity to ensure an accurate award process.”
A commission vote on a cap for the awards was not required, Burroughes said, because the September vote approving the city’s acceptance of the $4.26 million gave city administration control of the process.
City Finance Director LeighAnn Melancon said she has so far turned in about 57 applications to the state between Monday and Wednesday and anticipates sending the remaining applications early this week. The uploading software, she said, accepts a maximum of 19 daily applications. Melancon said she has processed applications as she received them from the chamber, in no particular order.
Melancon said she expects a turnaround time of two days from the state for processing, followed by 5-10 business days for the state to deposit funding for each application into a city account. Once Melancon verifies an award has been deposited, she will notify that business and mail them a check for the approved amount.
The task force recommended 13 businesses, eight of them hotels or restaurants, for more than $100,000. Those recommendations make up nearly $2.4 million.
The four top recommendations — Leal’s at $426,086.22, K-Bob’s at $332,267.75, Premier Hospitality (La Quinta) at $245,418.00, and the chamber itself at $218,212.79 — account for more than $1.22 million.
Highlights from the list:
• Juan Garza is the only member of the city commission with a business on the recommendation list. Juanito’s recommended award was $104,613.59. Had the recommendation list come before the commission, Garza would have been required to state his financial interest on the record but could make his own decision on voting or abstaining.
If a business is competing to be a vendor for the city, any commissioner with an ownership stake can only negotiate on behalf of his or her business and must abstain from any commission vote on the award.
This state reimbursement process does not fall within those parameters.
• Of the 68 recommendations below $100,000, there were 13 between $50,000 and $100,000, 13 between $25,000 and $50,000 and 42 under $25,000.
• Two applicants have withdrawn applications since the recommendations were made — the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation ($91,872.35) and High Plains Community Development ($114,386.24).