Villa Park City Manager Steve Franks reports that Orange County has received $555 million in COVID-19 relief funding.

How the county intends to spend that money is not clear, but Franks has already spoken to County CEO Frank Kim about cutting out a slice for Villa Park.

Franks has proposed that the city offer recovery grants to its small businesses.  The concept, he told the city council during its April 28 on-line meeting, would be to give businesses owned by Villa Park residents or operating within city limits, funds to offset losses caused by COVID-19 closures.

The funding would be a grant, not a loan, available to applicants who have a business license in Villa Park.  Applicants would have to be small businesses and they would have to explain how the grant money would be used.  “It’s hard to reopen,” Frank said, “if you don’t have money to pay your employees or rent.”

Franks suggests that applications be reviewed by volunteer members of the city’s Investment Advisory Committee.  The number of requests met would depend on how much money the county turns over to Villa Park.

Franks asked the council for the authority to initiate the program, continue discussions with the county and work with the Investment Advisory Committee volunteers.

The council was enthusiastic and approved the city manager’s proposed program by unanimous vote.

Councilwoman Crystal Miles offered to assist on the review committee, but was rebuffed by Franks.  “This shouldn’t be political,” he said.  “This shouldn’t look political.  The council should not be involved other than with the final approvals.”

The grant program would also aid the city. Franks estimates the COVID-19 closures have reduced sales tax income by some 20 percent, or about $58,900.  By giving local businesses a boost, sales tax receipts will go up.

Villa Park seeks small business recovery funds from county

May 2020