The city of Sandy Springs plans to distribute more COVID-19 relief funds – $2.1 million in total – to help organizations and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Mayor Rusty Paul said one of the beneficiaries, the Community Assistance Center, will get a shot in the arm from those monies.
“When I talked to (center CEO) Tamera Carrera, I asked her where most of her (clients) are coming from. She said most are from the service industries, which won’t recover until the middle of 2021 at the earliest,” Paul said.
At its Nov. 17 meeting at City Springs, the Sandy Springs City Council voted 5-0 to approve allocating $630,769 in federal COVID-19 relief funds provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. District 2 Councilman Steve Soteres was absent.
The monies will go to the center plus Los Ninos Primero and the Sandy Springs Mission, the same three nonprofits that received the first round of the city’s CDBG funds ($384,260), which the council approved in June.
The nonprofits used the initial award to deliver food to seniors and medically fragile individuals, execute educational enrichment programs and provide financial aid with rent and bill support. Like the first round, the center is getting most of the monies based on its needs.
Paul said he met with Carrera Nov. 16 and plans to meet with the other two nonprofits’ leaders soon.
“We’ve been giving a lot of money to three nonprofits, and they’re excellent,” he said. “I know them by the great work they do in the community. (The center serves) about 60 to 70 families per day with food. The biggest demand is rent assistance.
“The proudest aspect of assistance we’ve given is they’ve been able to give literally an untold number of families money to stay current on rent. Families are still struggling. It’s not a panacea, but at least (Carrera) believes it’s having a real impact on those families, particularly the families (working) in hotels and restaurants.”
By the same vote, the council also approved amending its current budget to allocate $1.5 million of the $4.56 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds it’s getting from Fulton County to use for three purposes.
First, it plans to allocate $80,000 to Visit Sandy Springs, the city’s tourism arm, to help it remarket the area since hotels and motels are struggling due to the pandemic. Later in the meeting, City Manager Andrea Surratt said Sandy Springs’ hotel/motel tax revenue collections have dropped to $248,920 through Sept. 30 from $666,716 the same date last year and $665,513 through Sept. 30, 2018.
Second, $220,000 would be used for additional nonprofits’ aid, and third, $1.2 million would go to a new small business relief grant program. Surratt said there are three tiers of businesses and funds available in the grant program: sole proprietor ($5,000), two to 10 employees ($10,000) and 11 to 99 workers ($15,000). This could include restaurants, another industry hit hard by the pandemic.
District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio asked if the small business funds would even be enough to help them survive during the pandemic.
“$5,000 $10,000 or even $15,000 … for someone with a lot of employees, (that) is not (enough funds for) even one pay cycle,” he said.
District 3 Councilman replied, “I do think rent is one use for this and it’s a small Band-Aid, but I do think another (round of) PPP (the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program loan) is coming in the first quarter of next year.”