Town officials refine grant process again, say business grant cycle will close at end of year

by Geoff Fox

Town officials unanimously voted to make changes to their grant process for business owners and also set a date for those grants to end.

The grant period will end on Saturday, December 31 and won’t start back up until officials decide to reopen the process.

No grant applications will be taken after December 31.

There are two types of grants available from the town. The first would be for businesses making interior improvements. The second are for downtown revitalization, making outside improvements to a building.

Councilman Roland Lanehart, Jr. made a motion that town officials only allow one grant per property owner location.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the other property owners that’s going to apply if I have a property and I put five addresses on it that all five of them address in one property is going to apply for a grant,” Lanehart said.

Councilman Josh McCusker questioned what Lanehart meant – if the property owner had them in one building or if they had two buildings.

Lanehart said he’d have no problem if a property owner were to apply for a grant for two different addresses, not applying for one building with multiple addresses.

Mayor Tim Smith said if a business were to open in a building and applies for a grant, it would be in their name.

However, Smith said that business couldn’t move into a person’s building with four storefronts and ask the building owner to apply for the grant because they’re putting the new business in.

Smith said if a building owner is putting a business in, they could have the choice to file the application as the building owner or business owner, but you can’t apply as both.

“If you applied and you accepted funding, and you already received that funding, you cannot apply until the next round,” Smith said.

Town Attorney Ed Kuczynski said if there are multiple spots available in one building and multiple businesses opening or already operating in the building and each one wants to apply for a grant, “they should be able to do that.”

Councilman Lanehart also wanted to know if the town would be liable or responsible if something went wrong under funding from a town grant.

Since the town would be, in effect, paying the contractor through the grant money, would the town be liable in the case of work being done improperly, officials wondered.

“If you have someone that’s unlicensed and they don’t do the job properly, cumulatively all those things could come in to play,” Kuczynski said.

Kuczynski said as a body, town officials could make it a requirement in the grant that the applicant must use licensed and insured contractors, and requiring proof of those conditions.

Town officials unanimously approved the stipulation about the licensed and insured contractor and also to approve only one grant per business owner or building owner.

Town Manager Mike Faith said all conditions of the grants previously set forth would still need to be met as well.

McCusker made the motion for allowing the grants to be accepted up to December 31 but not beyond. That action passed unanimously.