FLORENCE — Beginning Monday, businesses in unincorporated Pinal County may apply for up to $15,000 to help cover their expenses during the state’s stay-home order.
The Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to distribute federal CARES Act funds intended for COVID-19 relief while coordinating with local cities and towns to not duplicate programs or assistance when it met June 3.
Pinal County has received just over $27 million in CARES Act funding, while the county’s cities and towns have received various other amounts totaling almost $26 million.
County staff originally suggested reimbursements or payments for business mortgage, rent and utilities for 60 days (April and May) up to $10,000, but the supervisors opted to increase the window to 90 days and the maximum amount up to $15,000.
Supervisor Mike Goodman, R-San Tan Valley, said based on his research in his district, $10,000 for 60 days might not be enough. Supervisor Todd House, R-Apache Junction, said businesses are already receiving so many phony appeals that county staff must make a special effort to convey that this is real, and it’s reimbursement, not a loan.
Vice Chairman Pete Rios, D-Dudleyville, asked how the county is helping the unemployed who were working for a business that remains closed.
Assistant County Manager Leo Lew said the county has “multiple other programs” to help residents and will publicize those separately. Deputy County Manager Himanshu Patel said the county will receive an additional allocation of just over $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding specifically tied to COVID-19 for rental assistance, utility assistance and nonprofit funding.
To receive funding, businesses must be for-profit and located at a physical, commercial address outside city limits and must have had an interruption in business with a loss of 25% or more in revenues. Publicly held companies, marijuana businesses, a business whose owner is currently incarcerated and recipients of aid from another program are ineligible.
Lew said businesses must submit an application and will be asked to document their expenses. Businesses may apply between Monday and July 15. Applications will be processed first-come first-served as expeditiously as possible. Once eligibility and supporting documents are confirmed, payment will be disbursed. Pinal County Workforce Development will administer the program, Lew said.
The county expects businesses will be able to apply online, by email and U.S. mail. As county staff begins handling these applications, they can report back on how well the program is addressing needs, Lew said. Supervisor Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, said he’ll be awaiting that update around the end of June.
Chairman Anthony Smith, R-Maricopa, asked how the county can be sure it’s providing assistance to businesses that intend to stay open.
Deputy County Attorney Chris Keller replied county staff will be verifying that an applicant is a brick-and-mortar business that’s still open, along with details such as whether it has tax liens and is in good standing. “So there’s a little bit of due diligence we’ll need to do on our part.”
Lew added, “We can verify eligibility and make payments as soon as we have everything confirmed” and can extend the filing period if needed.
Smith asked how soon payments could be made.
Lew said if businesses wish to apply and submit their documentation at the same time, “fantastic. It shouldn’t take us too long to verify the information that they’re giving us.” The county won’t be able to do an electronic transfer “so we’ll be cutting checks.”