Monroe County passes $300K mark in food and beverage tax allocations for relief of COVID-19 impacts

At its regular meeting on Wednesday morning, the three-member board of Monroe County commissioners approved a couple of grants as part of its program to give relief to businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

cropped 2020-06-24 monroe county history center IMG_3266
The Monroe County History Center is located at 6th and Washington streets in downtown Bloomington. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

It was the ninth round of grant awards, which brought the total amount awarded by the county to just over $300,000 to 32 different entities. One of Wednesday’s awards, for $6,000, went to Misfit Toy Enterprises, a karaoke service.

The other grant approved on Wednesday, for $23,225, went to the Monroe County History Center.

At Wednesday’s meeting, history center director Susan Dyar thanked commissioners, telling them that a fundraising gala had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, so generating revenue has been a struggle. The center re-opened to the public on Tuesday, she said.

The history center’s award is the largest of the grants given by the county under its program.

The grant to the history center was different from previous awards in another way: It was made to an entity located inside the Bloomington city limits. Monroe County’s up-to-$400,000 COVID-19 relief grant program was conceived as benefiting just entities outside Bloomington, but inside Monroe County.

So commissioners had asked the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC) to allow the county to revise the scope of the program to include an business or nonprofit that has a countywide mission and purpose. At a meeting last week, the FABTAC agreed to extend eligibility to any entity “whose purpose and mission is to support the entire county in tourism related endeavors.”

Bloomington’s complementary $2-million loan program, also using food and beverage tax proceeds, is restricted to businesses and nonprofits physically located inside the city limits.

Both relief programs are restricted to entities that have a tourism-related purpose, which stems from the statutory purpose of the food and beverage tax. The primary statutory purpose is to pay for the convention center expansion, but secondarily to promote tourism-related purposes.

At last week’s meeting of the FABTAC, Bloomington’s city controller Jeff Underwood said his main concern would be if an entity were trying to apply for both Bloomington’s and Monroe County’s program. That put to rest any apprehensions by the FABTAC about expanding the geographic eligibility for the county’s program.

Bloomington has lent out $939,600 under it’s up-to-$2-million loan program.

President of the board of commissioners, Julie Thomas, said on Wednesday that next week’s regular meeting of the board would likely be the last chance for grants to be made under the county’s program.

That’s because the governor’s order declaring a health emergency, on which the both Bloomington and Monroe County’s relief programs depend, is not expected to be extended past July 3.

Monroe County food and beverage COVID-19 relief

GRANTEE Amount DATE Approved
The Monroe County History Center $23,225 2020-06-24
Eagle Pointe (golf course, bar, venue) $23,000 2020-04-29
The Golf Club at Eagle Point $22,500 2020-06-03
Port Hole Inn $20,000 2020-04-29
Knightridge, Inc. $15,274 2020-04-22
Sycamore Farm Bloomington, Inc. $14,218 2020-06-10
Whippoorwill Hill, LLC $13,500 2020-06-03
Cabin Restaurant and Lounge $10,500 2020-04-29
Fern Hills Club, Inc. $10,000 2020-06-03
Beaumont House (bed and breakfast) $10,000 2020-04-29
Whippoorwill Hill (farm event venue) $10,000 2020-04-29
Wee Willies West $10,000 2020-04-22
Big Sky Campgrounds $8,950 2020-04-22
Wampler House $8,900 2020-05-13
Cleaning Revolution $8,900 2020-05-13
Trailhead Enterprises, Inc. $8,528 2020-04-22
Sugar Daddy’s Cakes & Catering Cafe $8,000 2020-04-29
Kenneth Mobley, Inc. $7,100 2020-06-10
Back to Nature Cabins $7,000 2020-04-22
Rieman Properties $6,500 2020-04-29
Misfit Toy Enterprises $6,000 2020-06-24
Pili’s Party Taco $5,000 2020-05-20
Fishin’ Shedd $5,000 2020-05-13
Westbury Antique Market $5,000 2020-04-29
Sycamore Farms Bloomington, Inc. $5,000 2020-04-22
Terry’s Catering, LLC. $5,000 2020-04-22
The Black Sheep Boutique Co, LLC $5,000 2020-06-17
TJV Balloons, Inc. $4,462 2020-05-01
Robert Woodling Rentals $3,800 2020-04-22
U’sta-B-New $3,000 2020-04-22
Dance Machine DJ Services $2,500 2020-04-29
Bloomington Pub Quiz $1,810 2020-06-03
Trivia with Skip $1,800 2020-04-22
On Pointe Pet Sitting Services $1,200 2020-05-13
Total $300,667