City considering small business COVID relief

Winchester small businesses could receive financial help from the city, if a proposed relief program is approved later this month.

Tuesday night, the Winchester Board of Commissioners unveiled a proposal which, as written, would provide a maximum of $1,000 for a full-time business or $400 for a part-time business. The payments would be for applicants for expenses during a mandated shutdown or closure.

Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said the matter would be on the commission’s Jan. 19 agenda for a vote.

“What we’re trying to do is provide a little bit of money to the businesses that have been struggling through this time,” Burtner said.

To be eligible, a business must

• have a physical location within the city in a business, professional or industrial zone;

• own the building or have a lease;

• be current on city property taxes, have a business license and have reported all payroll taxes;

• have less than $100,000 in net profits during 2019 or have less than 10 employees;

• not be a franchise or affiliated with a franchise;

• be categorized as a non-essential business; and

• be listed as an eligible business and still be operating.

Eligible businesses are retail stores, barber or beauty salons, sit-down restaurants or small businesses closed by the governor’s executive orders.

Burtner said the funds would likely come from the city’s CARES relief funding.

Earlier Tuesday, the commissioners reinstated a number of expenses which were cut in the original fiscal year 2021 budget approved in the summer.

According to the city’s financial statement, revenue is up about 5.2% overall and expenses are down nearly 2%.

Winchester City Manager Mike Flynn said the federal CARES funding has helped. The city has completed its first round with a total of $1.33 million and has been approved for a second round of $417,515.

“Regardless of CAREs funding, we’ve done very well,” Flynn said.

With the positive news, the commissioners approved a number of things to be added to the budget including hiring a janitor or contracting with a service, filling the Main Street Winchester director position and a 3% cost of living increase for all city employees.

Several capital items, including a storage building for Winchester Fire-EMS and a new salt storage building for the Public Works Department, were not funded and deferred until the fiscal year 2022 budget.

“I think our employees are the people that make it happen,” Burtner said. “It’s been a very difficult time for everyone.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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