Shasta County is upping its financial commitment to help businesses that are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, supervisors approved a $22.7 million Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES, spending plan for the period March 1, 2020-Dec. 30, 2020. The county has already been allocated $18.15 million in CARES money.
In doing so, supervisors decided to raise the allocation to businesses from $1.5 million to up to $3 million.
The vote came after Redding Chamber of Commerce CEO Jake Mangas told board members about the critical struggle many small businesses are enduring.
But supervisors also heard from a host of public speakers who urged them to reject the CARES money, end the local health emergency and completely reopen the county. Many referred to Placer County, where supervisors last week voted to terminate the local health emergency.
The move to allocate more CARES money to Shasta County businesses came at the behest of District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti, who suggested the $3 million amount after Mangas said a recent chamber survey of 171 businesses revealed that they would need about a combine $4 million in order to keep their doors open.
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“My biggest concern here is the amount we’ve allocated to business,” Chimenti said before the 4-1 vote. “We shut their businesses down and they had no idea what the future was going to bring, none. And there’s no way they could predict it, and certainly for the younger businesses this was really painful. And then when we finally got ramped up again, many of them got shut down again.”
District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty made a motion to reallocate a combined $1.5 million of CARES money going to the county’s response contingency and temporary crisis stabilization unit to businesses. The motion carried.
District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh cast the lone dissenting vote because he wanted more money going to businesses. He believes much of the CARES monies already spent in Shasta County has gone to personnel, money that could be going to businesses.
“We have not only strapped, we have destroyed our local businesses and unless the greatest part of this money goes to our businesses, there’s no way in the world I’m going to support this,” Baugh said, suggesting that half of the $18.15 million in CARES money already allocated to the county go to businesses.
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Baugh also said the spending plan and resolution reaffirms a local health emergency that he believes doesn’t exist.
Supervisors emphasized that the CARES Act spending plan isn’t set in stone and it will give them the flexibility to make changes. They also asked Health and Human Services Agency Director Donnell Ewert to give them updates on how the money is being spent.
“This decision to increase the allocation is an indication that the Board of Supervisors not only listened to our concerns, they are responding with swift and significant action,” Mangas told the Record Searchlight after Tuesday’s vote.
The CARES money for businesses is expected to follow the city of Redding’s model which gave eligible applicants up to $10,000 in grants, Mangas said.
Redding’s $750,000 CARES Act Business Relief Grant Program went to 121 businesses before the money ran out. That left 124 businesses that applied not getting any money from Redding’s program.
City Manager Barry Tippin, at Tuesday night’s council meeting, said businesses that weren’t funded can reapply to Shasta County’s CARES Act relief program.
But the goal of the county program will be that businesses located in unincorporated areas get funded first, Mangas said
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Meanwhile, District 3 Supervisor and board chair Mary Rickert felt the need to address the people, who at Tuesday’s board me asked supervisors to follow Placer County’s lead.
Rickert said she has talked to Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt.
“His words exactly, he said this vote to dismiss this local health emergency was symbolic,” Rickert said. “He said it really doesn’t change anything.”
Rickert then read from the Placer County resolution, which said all state health orders and guidance “remain in effect.”
Moty backed Rickert, noting that he spoke to Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes.
“He described the event as basically a political stunt,” Moty said.
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David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly “Buzz on the Street” column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.