Bellaire City Council holds off on business relief with CARES Act funding

Bellaire City Council has decided against allocating $150,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funding to set up a small-business program. (Adobe Stock Photo)
Bellaire City Council has decided against allocating $150,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funding to set up a small-business program. (Adobe Stock Photo)

Bellaire City Council has decided against allocating $150,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funding to set up a small-business program. (Adobe Stock Photo)

A small-business recovery fund grant program specific to Bellaire looking to mitigate the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 will not be created, at least in how it was presented during Bellaire City Council’s meeting Oct. 19.

None of the council members opted to put forward a motion to establish the program, which could have allocated up to $150,000 of federal COVID-19 relief funding for qualified small businesses in the city of Bellaire, according to the proposed item on the council’s agenda.

Key to the decision was a simple policy question from Mayor Andrew Friedberg to the rest of the council: “Do we keep that money in the general fund or distribute that into the community?”

Keeping the money in the general fund would mean using the money to offset city expenses incurred between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 30, 2020, to deal with COVID-19 or were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020.

Besides small-business grants, other eligible expenses for the money include public safety and public health payroll expenses, personal protective equipment/supplies for COVID-19 prevention and precautions, and possible grant programs for individuals to prevent evictions.


Council Member Catherine Lewis was reluctant to distribute money solely for small businesses.

“A lot of the taxpayers of Bellaire, whether that’s businesses or homeowners, have experienced losses of various kinds during this time,” Lewis said. “If we just leave it in our budget, and defray some of our expenses, we’ll all get a benefit from that.”

Other council members concurred with Lewis while Mayor Pro Tem Gus Pappas raised concerns about the fairness of the proposed first-come, first-served approach to the small-business program.

Pappas additionally expressed conflict about what message the council’s no vote would send to the public.

“If we have money to give out, I’d like to be on the side willing to give that money out,” Pappas said.

Still, the council came to agree as a whole that the money could be used across other areas of need. The council’s inaction doesn’t preclude it from creating a future small-business recovery fund grant program, should it feel it is needed.

In total, Bellaire is eligible to receive over $1 million from Harris County’s $28.5 million Small City Assistance Program, which provides COVID-19 financial assistance to cities with a population of less than 500,000 in Harris County. Those funds come from $426 million the county received from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, established through the $150 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


MOST RECENT

Houston City Council approved a slate of 17 proposed affordable housing developments throughout the city Feb. 24. (Courtesy city of Houston)
Houston City Council approves slate of potential affordable housing developments

Houston City Council approved a slate of 17 proposed affordable housing developments throughout the city Feb. 24.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo
FEMA to administer 126,000 COVID-19 vaccinations at NRG Stadium

The site is one of four FEMA-led vaccination hubs in the country.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked Houston-area residents to contribute to a relief fund to help the community recover from the winter storm. (Screenshot via HTV)
Houstonians asked to pitch into winter storm relief fund

CenterPoint Energy provided a leading gift of $1 million.

During the upcoming May 1 general election, two candidates will run for West University Place mayor, and 10 candidates will run for four City Council positions. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
12 West University Place residents file to run in May general election

According to the West University Place city charter, no person can serve as mayor or council member for more than three two-year successive terms.

Water quality testing from 43 sites in Houston were confirmed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as meeting safety standards. (Courtesy Pexels)
Houston lifts boil water notice effective Feb. 21

The boil notice has been in effect since Feb. 17.

The boil water notice for the city of Bellaire was lifted on Feb. 21. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
City of Bellaire lifts boil-water notice

Bellaire residents can now use their water safely.

cars on snowy road
Texas Disaster Declaration opens door to federal aid for losses sustained during winter storms

Individuals and businesses who sustained losses during the February 2021 winter storms are eligible for federal assistance, according to a Texas Disaster Declaration approved

Houston ISD will remain closed until Feb. 24 as the community recovers from the winter storm. (Community Impact staff)
Houston ISD will resume virtual classes Feb. 24

Houston ISD has announced that it will remain closed Feb. 22-23.

Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Feb. 19 updating residents on the state's response to recent winter storms. (Courtesy Office of the Governor)
Gov. Abbott: Texas is working with federal, local agencies to offer financial relief, resources to residents impacted by winter storms

Gov. Greg Abbott said the state continues to prioritize four main areas of concern: power, water, supplies and fuel production.

Icicles hung from trees and vegetation in the Cy-Fair area Feb. 15. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
SHARE YOUR STORY: How did the recent winter storm affect you?

Although the weather is warming up, this week's storm will have lasting effects on many residents. We want to hear your stories.