The County Council yesterday approved a package of measures to provide $36.5 million in financial assistance to businesses and other organizations affected by the COVID-19 emergency.
The largest amount, $20 million, will fund a Public Health Emergency Grant Program that would allow the county executive to provide grants of up to $75,000 to county businesses and nonprofits with 100 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees that can demonstrate financial losses caused by the public health emergency.
The grants provided for in the Covid-19 Economic Relief Act must be used for employee wages and benefits, taxes, debt, rent or other operating losses during the emergency. The program will also allow grants of up to $2,500 for small businesses and nonprofits to use to buy equipment and technology that support teleworking capabilities.
Under the terms of an amendment approved yesterday, at least 25 percent of the funding will be set aside for restaurants and retail businesses.
The funds, approved in a special appropriation, will come from the county’s General Fund Reserves.
“The impact of the special appropriation will be offset by the County Executive’s recommended reduction of FY20 expenditures from the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Non-Department Account based on the new actuarial evaluation lowering the required contribution,” according to a press release.
The council also approved $5 million to provide residents with financial assistance. An additional $1 million will support safety net programs provided by the Department of Health and Human Services and its nonprofit partners.
“Local governments are on the front lines of this pandemic and Montgomery County’s economic stimulus package is a signal to our small businesses, those that are for profit and not-for-profit, that we have their back,” said Councilmember Evan Glass (D-At Large) in response to a Source request for comment.
“The $26 million emergency stimulus package is designed to complement the efforts at the state and federal levels, so that no one is left on their own,” he added.
The council also approved a special appropriation of $10 million to assist the county’s hospitals with urgent needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the council passed a special appropriation of $250,000 to provide hotel rooms at a reduced cost to medical professionals, first responders and other personnel critical to the efforts to combat the pandemic.
Another $260,000 was appropriated to support Manna Food Center’s work to address residents’ food insecurity due to COVID-19 related school closures and its economic impact.