SELMA — Selma City Council held about a lengthy five-hour meeting on Monday, Sept. 21 and here are some highlights of what was discussed.

Approving small business grant program

The council unanimously approved (5-0 vote) the establishment of a small business relief grant program for local businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The grant program would allow local businesses in the most affected industries to apply for a grant of up to $2,500. Total funds allocated for this program would be $60,000 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. City of Selma Economic Development Analyst Tracy Tosta said the program is open to for-profit, non-profit businesses and independent contractors. The grant would assist businesses in covering costs related to modifying their facility for social distancing, providing mandated training from their licensing agencies and personal protection equipment (PPE).

Grant applications will be submitted to and reviewed by the Economic Development Department for approximately one month to allow hard-to-reach businesses the opportunity to apply. Businesses will be selected based on a lottery system.

Businesses that were considered to have been disproportionately affected in Selma are hair salons, barber shops, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms and fitness centers. Restaurants, movie theaters, restaurants and gyms could operate outdoors. Salons and barbershops are allowed to operate indoors with modifications.

Before the motion got approved, there were questions from the council regarding the funds being used for rent and utilities and if expenses for small business could be added from the CARES Act funding.

Discussion on allocated CARES Act funds

After the council approved the program, they discussed the allocated funds from the CARES Act, which totals $301,715 for Selma.

The funds will be utilized in four different categories that the council approved in its meeting on Sept. 8.

The following categories are:

  • COVID-19 related expenses including PPE, telework expenses, facility modifications, marketing/outreach materials and training ($60,000 recommended)
  • Business relief grant funds ($60,000 recommended)
  • Senior meals ($30,00 recommended)
  • Budget contingency in the event revenue projects fall short due to impacts of COVID-19 on the economy ($151,715 recommended)

The discussion for adding funds for the business relief grant program was continued during this agenda item. There was discussion that funds from the budget contingency category be subtracted and added to the relief grant funds. Councilmember Scott Robertson recommended putting 40% of the CARES Act funding into the small business relief program.

After a motion was made to add more funds to the business relief grant program, the council finalized and unanimously approved new allocated funds for each category.

Council waives fees for March for Jesus event

In the final agenda item of the night, the council unanimously voted to waive fees for the upcoming annual March for Jesus event.

The waiver was requested by the event’s organizers: Antioquia Ministries Inc., Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life, Central Valley Ministry Alliance and the Selma Legacy Youth Program. The waiver is not expected to exceed $2,500 since fees have not been fully calculated yet.

The waiver was requested due to services needed for the event including police officers, special event permit and amplified sound fee for speakers, and barricades and staff time.

This year’s event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 17 and the estimated route will begin at Antioquia Ministries on 1426 Grove Street to Rose Avenue, then toward west to Lincoln Park, where the march will end with speakers. The route is not finalized as of press time and it will be provided at a later date.

The march is described as an event that will “promote unity and coming together within these difficult times.”

Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at (559) 583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Jeremiah on Twitter at @TheJerryMartin. 

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