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City offers CDBG funding in COVID-19 response
Council holds first virtual meeting
new deh city council city logos USE
Pictured is the City of Great Bend logo approved Monday night by the City Council.

To lend a hand to local entities struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved tapping into the city’s Community Development Block Grant funding for businesses and nonprofits. The council met virtually for the first time via Zoom Meeting. 

Following this action, the council OKed the first such loan to DAT Fitness, owned by David Tudor who will receive $4,000 to help with routine business expenses.

The City of Great Bend controls two economic development revolving loan funds through the Kansas Department of Commerce’s CDBG program, City Administrator Kendal Francis said. The balance of both as of Dec. 31, 2019, was a combined $179,200.

In response to COVID-19, the KDC is allowing immediate use of our local CDBG Revolving Loan fund money to help support the working capital needs of existing small businesses, he said. “Commerce has relaxed and streamlined the applications for this money. They very badly want to this used by small businesses.”

But, funding must be based on job retention of which 51% must be low to moderate income, and the business must provide a letter stating the company is either shut down or will be shut down due to COVID 19, he said. 

Applicants are not required to provide business financial reports, matching funds or collateral, Francis said. These funds are only available to businesses or non-profits within the Great Bend city limits. The Department of Commerce is also allowing the local governing entities to decide the terms of funds: Grant or loan; interest rate (must be 4% or less); term (maximum of three years): and number of interest only payments. “I am recommending a loan with .5% interest and a maximum three-year term and not more than 12-months of interest only payments,” he said. 

All funding applications must receive final approval by the governing body.

DAT Fitness’s Tudor said in his application COVID-19 has caused his memberships to drop and people have stopped coming in to workout. “The loan funds would allow us to make it through until we are able to reopen our doors. One hundred percent of the income is from member dues, so it will be very difficult to survive without it.”

He applied for the $4,000 loan for working capital. Working capital is defined as salaries/wages, inventory purchase, utilities, rent, insurance payments, etc. The conditions for this loan follow the guidelines set forth by the council, Francis said. 

The company meets the requirements for job retention and the low to moderate-income restrictions. There is no penalty for early repayment.

Great Plains Development based in Dodge City administers these funds for the city. The grants must go to existing businesses and are normally earmarked for economic development incentives and gap funding.

The only no vote was from Councilman Brock McPherson. He noted that there were other government loan programs available for small businesses

What is a CDBG?

In evaluating existing tools at the Department of Commerce, the department identified $6.3 million in CDBG funds that currently reside with 36 Kansas communities, who use them for revolving loan programs for small businesses. Under normal circumstances, the process takes more than 30 days for communities to conduct environmental reviews and issue public notice before a loan can be issued.

The Department of Commerce now will provide environmental certifications within 24 hours, and the public notice period has been shortened from 30 days to 24 hours.

The Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program allows the Department of Commerce to distribute federal funds to Kansas cities and counties looking to improve their community.

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

•  Heard from Roger Ward in regards to the Great Bend Bat Cats baseball club. He shared his concerns that the city had not followed through with him on a now-stalled fundraiser for Al Burns Field at Veterans Memorial Park, new lighting for the ball field and other issues. He fears this year’s season for the Great Bend Bat Cats may be in jeopardy.

• Approved emergency Community Development Block Grant funding for businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Great Bend controls two economic development revolving loan funds through the Kansas Department of Commerce’s CDBG program, the balance of which, as of Dec. 31, 2019, was a combined $179,200.

All funding applications must receive final approval by the governing body.

• Approved a CBDG application from DAT Fitness and David Tudor. Tudor has applied for a $4,000 loan for working capital.

• Approved allowing Kevin Arnberger with Pryor Sprinklers to connect to the city sewer main.

Arnberger is currently constructing a new shop located right outside of city limits at 5425 Second St. Instead of using a septic system, they would like to utilize the city sewer that runs down second Street. There is a $1,000 fee associated with tapping on the sewer and all applicable inspections are required, Building Inspector Logan Burns said.

Arnberger purchased real estate located at Second and MacArthur streets, out side of the city, but in it’s three-mile zoning radius. In December, the council approved a rezoning request for the property from A (agriculture) to C (commercial) allowing him to proceed with the project. 

• Approved an ordinance waiving restriction for the microbrewery located with 200 feet of a church.

Kevin Burkey and Ryan Fairchild are planning on opening a microbrewery, Dry Lake Brewing, at 1305 Main Street. Per state statute, the premises cannot be located within 200 feet of a public or parochial school, college or church, said City Attorney Bob Suelter. 

However, the River of Life Church is located at 1219 Main, 151 feet away from the proposed microbrewery. A city may, by ordinance, waive this restriction for licensed premises located within a core commercial district as defined by state law, Suelter said.

“We see it as an ideal location for a family friendly brewery and restaurant in the heart of Great Bend,” Burkey said. “I have reached out the Church to share our intent of bringing our restaurant/microbrewery to downtown.”

• Heard an update on COVID-19 and the city’s response to the pandemic. The council approved a policy on the city’s exemptions to the Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act.

• Heard an update on city activities from City Administrator Kendal Francis.

• Heard a report from Great Bend Economic Development Inc. President Jessica Milsap.

• Approved abatements at: accumulation of trash/refuse, 1415 16th, Erick Arias; motor vehicle nuisance, 301 Locust, Antonia Flaire Alvarez; accumulation of trash/refuse, 301 Locust, Antonia Flaire Alvarez; motor vehicle nuisance, 320 Fruit, Manuel Tavarez; motor vehicle nuisance, 323 Frey, Lupe and Hilareo Montez; motor vehicle nuisance, 1715 Hubbard, Sanford and Ana Hayson; accumulation of trash/refuse, 308 Pine, Jesus and Emma Carbajal; motor vehicle nuisance, 1407 Baker, Roas Lopez and Alejandro Aguilera; motor vehicle nuisance, 1314 Holland, Stueder Rentals LLC.; motor vehicle nuisance, 2311 Polk, Richard and Glenda Zimmerman; accumulation of trash/refuse, 1432 Lakin, Dorsha Ford; motor vehicle nuisance, 1212 Holland, Stueder Rentals LLC.; accumulation of trash/refuse, 712 Baker, Maria Trinidad Garcia; and motor vehicle nuisance, 712 Baker, Maria Trinidad Garcia.