COVID Mask

The city of Hutchinson is seeking to spend the last of its federal CARES Act funding to assist with COVID-19 expenses.

As of the Oct. 13 City Council meeting, $257,822 of the city's $1.07 million allotment had been spent on personal protective equipment, safety needs for city staff, pandemic leave, heating, air conditioning and air-conditioning improvements, and virtual meting supplies. Another $17,259 had been spent on PPE, supplies and HVAC improvements for the Hutchinson Utilities Commission, and $5,558 for HVAC improvements at Park Towers.

The city also had $40,000 left to allocate Tuesday, and Finance Director Andy Reid suggested the following:

  • $21,000 to add hands-free faucets, toilets and urinals to city facilities
  • $13,000 to install water bottle filling stations in city facilities
  • $3,500 to add vinyl furniture to help social distancing in the City Center break room

The suggestion was approved unanimously.

BUSINESS LOANS AVAILABLE

The largest share of the city's CARES spending — $753,751 — was reserved for business assistance, with roughly $100,000 left to be used.

"Is there any other small businesses you know that are looking to help yet?" Mayor Gary Forcier asked.

Council Member Chad Czmowski said that as of a few weeks ago, there had not been new requests for funding, but that Economic Development Director Miles Seppelt and Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Director Mary Hodson have been reaching out to businesses affected by COVID-19.

"Miles wanted to kind of beat the streets and try to find some businesses that have not applied yet, and get them to apply," said Andy Reid, Hutchinson's finance director.

The city could also give more money to businesses that qualify. Council Member Steve Cook said he would prefer to prioritize businesses whose expenses were only partially funded.

"I would agree with that," Czmowski said. "I've heard from business owners that their loans weren't fully funded, and they weren't over that $15,000 limit."

CARES money in the hands of the city must be spent by Nov. 15, or it must be sent to the county to spend. City Administrator Matt Jaunich said the county would prefer for that not to happen.

"They're probably in the same position we are, trying to disperse everything they have, and would rather not have more," he said.