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Commissioners discuss finances, outdoor business activities

City Commissions meet virtually via Zoom on May 26.

City Commissioners passed a resolution at their virtual meeting May 26 temporarily allowing businesses to host outdoor service and activities.

The decision was part of a conversation about helping business owners dealing with hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

"As restrictions are being lifted in the state, and more industries are being allowed to open, we are seeing more instances where limitations are being placed on those businesses, quite frequently on occupancy levels and how they can contact their business," City Manager Nancy Ridley said. 

In order to be prepared for when operations reopen, Ridley and city staff members created the resolution to allow the local businesses to expand occupancy levels while maintaining social distancing. This resolution will also expedite the process of obtaining permits for outside business activities. Fees for outdoor dining, merchandising and tents were also waived under this resolution.

Vice Mayor Amy Perschbacher said she supports the resolution because it will encourage businesses to immediately profit when they are able to reopen.

"This is a way for us to help our businesses be able to thrive in what is really a treacherous economic situation," Mayor Will Joesph said. "Unfortunately, the city is limited in the tools that it really can (use) to help our businesses. We really don't have the power to do grants and loans like the state and federal governments do. 

"It's little things that we can do (that can) help them."

This resolution is in effect immediately for businesses to begin working with the city to begin the permit process, but need to wait until the state allows them to open. Currently, the resolution expires on Sept. 30, but an be extended at that time.

In addition to permitting outdoor business activities, the commissioners discussed finances within businesses and the city. 

The meeting featured a presentation on Local Finance Development Authority (LDFA) by Jim McBryde of Middle Michigan Development Corporation and Erin Strang of Central Michigan University Research Corporation.

Commissioners continued to discuss reducing the tax captures for the LDFA, which provides funding for the Central Michigan University SmartZone.

"I will not be supporting this motion," Joesph said. "I think this is sort of an inappropriate time to even be talking about it. I was not even prepared to be talking about the LDFA capture today. I think that if we are going to consider something like this we should have more thought and more research into it from staff."

After discussing the funding and potential loses of taxpayer money for jobs that are not within the city, the motion failed 2-5.

The City Commission Meeting can be viewed on the City's YouTube Channel.