LINCOLN CITY — During a special meeting on May 18, the Lincoln City City Council approved a list of businesses that will receive a total of more than half a million dollars through the city’s economic aid program.
The program was designed to provide assistance to businesses hurt by government action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — lodging establishments restricted under a city order prohibiting tourist rentals and those closed by Gov. Kate Brown’s March 23 order. The city dedicated $635,000 in transient room tax funds to the program, which had been reserved to construct a new visitor center, with $235,000 going to lodgers and $400,000 to non-lodging businesses.
City Manager Ron Chandler said more than 100 applications from the latter category were received and 82 approved. The $400,000 would be divided equally among those at $4,878 each. Seventy-three lodging businesses were approved, with each to receive aid equal to its average monthly rental income up to $5,000. Chandler said rental income was proprietary information, so specific amounts would not be given, but the average aid was $3,222. The aid will take the form of credit for goods and services purchased by the city, which will be redeemed at a later date.
In examining the list, City Attorney Richard Appicello cautioned the council about the statutory requirement that the room tax funds be used for tourism-related purposes, singling out a cleaning company he thought might have difficulty qualifying. He also said a few of the businesses were not registered with the Oregon Secretary of State, a requirement of entering into a contract with the city. The council could move ahead and approve the list, Appicello said, but should include a provision that staff ensure businesses are eligible to sign contracts and attest in them to their tourism-related function.
Councilor Riley Hoagland said a few of the businesses on the list gave him pause, as they are not based primarily in Lincoln City. The council’s resolution authorizing the program requires businesses have a city occupational tax permit, but it allows for big chains and businesses headquartered elsewhere. Hoagland said he thought giving money to businesses not based in Lincoln City, when some applications from local businesses were denied on the grounds they had been operating for less than a year, was contrary to the program’s aims.
Hoagland ultimately voted yes on Mayor Dick Anderson’s motion to approve the list with the stipulations suggested by Appicello. Councilor Diane Kusz was the lone vote against.
The credit purchased by the city will be used by Explore Lincoln City in future promotions for the next several years, with tourist package giveaways intended to have a multiplier effect on the local economy.
Councilor Judy Caspar also reported on $40,000 in aid awarded to local organizations providing free food to the needy during to the pandemic, including Eagles Lodge #2576, which received $14,600; as well as Family Promise, the food pantry, and Backpacks for Kids, which received $7,733 each.