BISBEE – Few businesses in the city have not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, now in its second year.
Nonprofits have been hit just as hard as their reliable fundraisers were canceled. Over the past year, they had to cancel numerous fundraising events, which put them on tight budgets.
After hearing the city may be able to help them out by sharing about 10% of the money from the American Recovery Plan Act, 10 local nonprofits submitted applications for a total of $100,814.
The applications were presented to the mayor and council in a recent meeting, but they chose not to move forward without some ground rules and put a hold on the requests. The mayor and council wanted to discuss how the requests would be ranked, how the money would be tracked and how many of the requests were actual emergencies.
In a work session Aug. 24, Mayor Ken Budge and Councilmembers Lou Pawlik, Frank Davis, Leslie Johns, Mel Sowid, Anna Cline and Joni Giacomino tossed about ideas on how to approach funding local nonprofits, specifically those who need the emergency funds the most.
Budge added more questions to the original application forms. Do the requested funds replace funding or revenues lost as a direct result of COVID–19? Will the funds be spent within the city? What is the anticipated outcome of receiving the funding? Has the organization secured any other money from COVID–19 related claims?
Though Budge suggested putting a limit on funding at $75,000, Pawlik, Davis and Johns agreed the city should raise the limit to $100,000.
Pawlik was concerned with how the funding opportunity was advertised to the public and thought there were more nonprofits that should have applied.
City Manager Steve Pauken told him an advertisement was placed in the city’s newspaper of record, the Bisbee Observer, as well as shared on the city’s Facebook page. Two of the largest nonprofits were contacted directly by City Hall, but he said neither sent in requests.
Sowid suggested contacting all the local nonprofits in the city, as some may not have access to the internet. He also wanted to be sure the funding went for actual emergency needs.
Pauken said, “A museum may have had to shut down, forced to close of COVID–19. So, they weren’t able to hold fundraisers.”
The impacts can be medical, too, like masks and hand sanitizers, Budge noted.
He also said he did not want to see a “complicated” application process and wanted the council to review all of the applications and rate them so voting on each runs smoothly. The council will use a ranking system 1 to 5, with 5 being the high mark.
The applications have a deadline of Sept. 8, so the council will have time to review each of them and rate them prior to the Sept. 14 council meeting.
“I want the money to stay local,” Budge said.
Pawlik suggested rather than tell a nonprofit no, the council could make sure all of them receive something.
Cline said the limit could be set at $5,000, which Budge said would be a good target for approval.
Budge said, “Some of the applications are not emergency requests. Some people asked for the sky and others were more reasonable. We can rank them and vote on each one separately. We can’t replace all the money the nonprofits have lost, but we can help.”
For information on the applications for funding, contact the city at 520-432-9012.