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State offers big bucks with limited use to cities, businesses

Observer staff report

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration on Sept. 1 announced $150 million in CARES Act grants to local governments and businesses across the state to cover the cost of necessary expenditures from the public-health emergency.

The direct local-government grant — actually a reimbursement for money spent — for the City of Rio Rancho was for a maximum of about $11.9 million, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Also receiving grants within the county were the Town of Bernalillo ($2.2 million), the Village of Corrales ($350,000), the Village of Cuba ($35,000) and Sandoval County ($253,000).

“We are still in the process of going through the information/instructions the state has provided regarding these federal funds,” said Annemarie Garcia, City of Rio Rancho spokeswoman. “What we can confirm is that the city will only be able to access this funding, via reimbursement submittals, to cover costs that:

• Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public-health emergency with respect to COVID–19;

• Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the state or local government; and

• Were incurred during the period that began March 1, 2020, and ends Dec. 30, 2020.”

Applications were open to most New Mexico local governments, excluding only the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, which received CARES Act funds directly from the federal government, according to the release.

The total amount of money doled out to cities, villages, towns and counties amounted to more than $99.8 million.

“The pandemic has been devastating for all of us, not least local governments and small businesses across our state,” Lujan Grisham said in the release. “My administration will continue to deliver whatever resources we have and can make available to help our communities maintain essential services and respond to the public-health emergency.”

The Department of Finance and Administration received 83 local government applications for the almost $100 million for local governments and 66 applications for $50 million for small-business grants via local governments.

The DFA scored applications based on criteria related to local government revenue lost due to expenses made responding to the health crisis, according to the release. The total amount requested exceeded the funds made available by the federal government; awards were prorated based on need.

All requests for amounts less than $50,000 for direct local government grants were awarded in full.

The grant awards for small businesses via local governments are as follows: City of Rio Rancho ($466,000), Town of Bernalillo ($1.1 million), Village of Corrales ($256,000), Village of Cuba ($32,800) and Sandoval County ($965,000).

City of Rio Rancho

The City of Rio Rancho has begun accepting applications.

The deadline for small business owners to apply is Sept. 18 for the first review of applications. If funds remain, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

The city will award grants for up to $10,000. Rio Rancho small business owners are encouraged to visit rrnm.gov/assistance to review the list of complete eligibility requirements and restrictions and apply for funding assistance.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull said. “Since the outset of the pandemic, getting funds to assist our Rio Rancho small businesses has been our priority.”

Sandoval County

Sandoval County is also taking applications for its part of the business program, according to a county news release.

The county application portal will go live Sept. 8. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 30, with all funds to be allocated no later than Dec. 30.

The program will offer one-time grants up to $8,000 to qualifying small businesses and non-profits to cover costs such as employee wages, vendor bills and rent caused by required closures.

“The work it takes to run a small business is a story of hard-working people,” said Dora Dominguez, county director of Economic Development. “The opportunity to provide a source of emergency relief in the wake of a pandemic is a much-appreciated honor. Small business owners are the backbone of our nation and local economies.”

Grants will first be prioritized to qualifying businesses in unincorporated areas of Sandoval County and towns that did not receive Small Business Continuity Grant funding. However, any qualifying business or nonprofit within Sandoval County are is to apply.

The money can only be used to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures and not covered by insurance or another government program.

To apply for the county grant program, email businessgrant@sandovalcountynm.gov to ask for a copy of the application and learn more about qualifications.

Expenses were outlined in the application process to ensure they matched CARES Act requirements dictated by the federal government. New Mexico would be required to refund the federal government should an expense not fit the specific requirements.

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