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Lawrenceburg Mayor Kelly Mollaun speaking at the State of the City address in February. Marc Emral/The Register

L’burg to pay residents' utility bills, help out businesses

Lawrenceburg City Council approved two actions at a special Friday, March 27, meeting to help residents and local businesses being affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

Council passed the Emergency Utilities Resolution to establish the Public Health Emergency Economic Relief Fund that will provide money to pay residents’ utility bills in May and June.

Under this resolution, any existing city resident currently receiving a Lawrenceburg Municipal Utilities bill for water, sewer, and electric will not have to pay their bill for the two months.

Bills for April are prepared and will be sent out next week. The city has a program to help residents pay their bills.

City residents who have a rental agreement that includes utilities should consult their landlord for any rental fee agreement changes. Landlords who include their monthly residential rent fee to include LMU utilities are encouraged to pass along the savings to their renters.

“We can only address the people that are getting the utility bill,” Mayor Kelly Mollaun said about the landlords renting apartments or houses. “But, my goodness, I would plead, I would ask, I think everyone up here and on the phone here would agree these landlords should give these people the same break they are getting. We can’t force them.”

Council also created a Public Health Emergency Small Business Grant to provide immediate assistance for local small businesses that have been forced to close, partially or wholly, during the COVID-19 emergency.

Those eligible are brick and mortar small retail or restaurant businesses with fewer than 25 employees located within the city limits. National retail and chain restaurants are not eligible. The business must have closed or partially closed as a direct result of the public health emergency.

Not eligible are manufacturing, industry and professional services.

The grant is for $3,500 per approved applicant and can be used for business-related operational costs. It must be used only for businesses inside the city limits.

Applications will be accepted beginning March 30 either via email or dropped off at the city’s drive-through window. A fillable form will be on the city’s website (www.thinklawrenceburg.com).

“The whole intent is to try to get the package and money out as soon as possible,” Mollaun said.

The mayor will approve the grants unless there are questions; he will discuss those with questions that with council.

The business must also apply for a Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan and for state and federal reimbursement/stimulus funds within 45 days of the grant award.

If the business closes or relocates within nine months of getting the award or fails to reopen it will be required to repay the grant in full to the city.

“We figure the package would help them through three months,” Mollaun said. “What we’re asking is we’ve got you through three months … along with state and federal moneys that will be available to them, hopefully that will bridge some of that gap, be able to retain some of their employees and things like that.”

But if a business was struggling before closing due to the governor’s executive order, he said the business should think before applying.

“If they are struggling before, my advice to them is don’t come and get this,” he said. “If I was a struggling business owner on the verge of closing down before this happened, I don’t know if I would want to take the chance of getting a grant for $3,500 and be expected it pay it back.”

Mollaun estimated the total cost of both programs would be about $1 million, with the business grant portion about $260,000. It will be paid out of the Municipal Development Fund. Council will have to OK an additional appropriation for the two programs.

Councilman Brett Bondurant said the two measures passed Friday are “good effort(s) to try to stay in front of it and help the community out.”

 

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