Hopkinsville Committee of the Whole voted Tuesday to forward the small business stimulus program to city council for approval and to form a subcommittee to re-evaluate how the city will spend the rest of the $2.23 million it received for COVID-19 relief reimbursement.
Hopkinsville City Council voted Sept. 1 to return the spending plan to committee after Councilman Travis Martin shared that many people in the community were not happy with a few line items in the first plan.
“These funds are a reimbursement for funds we spent in response to the coronavirus,” he said, “but what happens if we give it all out and (COVID-19) gets worse?”
Martin said if he had it his way he would put a large chunk of the reimbursement funds into the city’s savings, put some toward the city’s pension fund obligation and give the rest to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
“I know we don’t listen to social media, but we need to change that,” Martin said about the feedback about the first plan. “People are communicating differently. They no longer email their concerns. And, from what I’m hearing, the public isn’t happy with how these funds are being spent, so that’s why I objected. Hopefully we can come to an agreement of how these funds are spent or how they are saved.”
In the original relief plan — which was presented by Chief Financial Officer Robert Martin, Chief Administrative Officer Troy Body and Mayor Wendell Lynch — $335,000 would go to local small businesses that apply and qualify for the funds.
Other line items in the original plan included
- $1.5 million be put toward the city’s increasing pension fund obligation
- $30,000 each to local utility providers
- $100,000 for the James E. Bruce Convention Center
- $45,000 for the Downtown Incentive Shortfall Reserve
- $60,000 to begin paving an overflow parking lot at the Planters Bank-Jennie Stuart Health Sportsplex.
Councilwoman Amy Craig said the parking lot was the main item of contention in the original plan, so she urged the committee to leave it out of the new plan.
“Using COVID funds to pave the parking lot that truly doesn’t need to be paved — it’s an overflow parking lot and it can remain gravel,” she said.
Craig went on to say she agreed with forming a sub-committee to present a new plan.
Upon the advice of City Attorney Doug Willen, the Committee of the Whole voted to form the subcommittee, which will include Councilmen Travis Martin, Jason Bell, Phillip Brooks and Terry Parker.
Craig urged them to come up with a new spending plan as soon as possible.
“Sometimes committees can drag things out longer,” she said. “I think the committee is great, but my recommendation is that we don’t drag this out too long so we can get some of this money out to these businesses. ... These agencies are desperately in need of funds as well.”
Councilmen Parker and Darvin Adams agreed that the small business program should get going as soon as possible. It was originally slated to open for applications Sept. 1.
Once approved by city council, the stimulus program can begin.
In other business
- The Committee of the Whole heard a report from Hopkinsville Public Works, which noted that several sidewalk and abatement projects had been completed this summer. More sidewalk projects are planned this fall. Additionally, public works is continuing projects on Fort Campbell, which were approved as part of an intergovernmental service agreement.
- Committee of the Whole went into closed session to discuss an economic development proposal. Committee Chair Phillip Brooks said they didn’t intend to take any action Tuesday evening.