Roswell city council members will begin working on and polishing Mayor Lori Henry’s proposed COVID-19 relief grant.

Henry presented her proposed $800,000 COVID-19 relief grant during the Jan. 25 mayor and city council meeting. If passed at a later date, the grant would provide financial relief for Roswell residents and brick-and-mortar businesses.

Roswell received around $3.9 million as from funds the county was granted through the CARES Act. According to director of finance Ryan Luckett, the $800,000 would be taken from Roswell’s remaining $2.8 million from the CARES Act funds. The city had expenditures, but was reimbursed by Fulton County.

Per Henry, the proposed $800,000 grant would be divided with $400,000 in grants available to residents and $400,000 available to Roswell brick and mortar businesses that have lost revenues during the pandemic. The grants would not need to be paid back to the city. City council would draw up eligibility parameters, but the grant for Roswell residents would be for payments such as mortgage, rent, utilities, food, etc.

“From what I understand from talking with other cities as well as staff, both are very doable and I would like to say I’m anxious to get it done because folks are hurting out there,” Henry said at the meeting. “The quicker we can help them the better off we’re going to be.”

City council voted to bookmark the $800,000 and determine details and criteria at a later date. Henry said she will come back with more details for the council to vote on.

“As a business owner I always believe the devil is in the details,” councilmember Marcelo Zapata said. “This has to be very very targeted, very laser focused — who it will go to and what kind of impact would this have on our business sector and private sector with our residents.”

Henry and city staff also say they looked at what other sister cities were doing, such as Johns Creek, Sandy Springs and Alpharetta. Several other Fulton cities have also begun coronavirus relief funds, including East Point and the City of South Fulton

“They are helping all citizens by keeping businesses afloat, which is an economic benefit to the city as a whole,” city attorney David Davidson said. “It is also helping citizens who are in need, that’s also a benefit to the city because it causes a drain on public finances when people have to go and condemn houses and things.”

During the meeting, a resident claimed the proposed grant would be criminal and against the Georgia Constitution.

However, Davidson affirmed it would be “totally legal to provide necessary funding to the needy businesses and residents of the city.” For the proposal to be criminal, Davidson said, it would have to include intentious or malicious acts on behalf of individual council members.

“I don’t think anyone in this situation would arise to that,” Davidson said.

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