Part 2 of the Imperial Beach COVID-19 Business Assistance Program was discussed during the last council meeting held via teleconference on May 20. Part 2 included further action by the city to help local businesses recover from the pandemic with a number of resolutions: waiving of business license late fees that have expired during the pandemic for up to 60 days following the expiration of local emergency; the dissolution of assessment district AD-67; and the requirement of one-way aisles and space markings in essential businesses as well as the use of parking areas and excess right of way for some businesses.
(An example of use of excess right of way is for restaurants who have to use physical distance and limit the number of patrons. This resolution allows businesses to submit a request to use private parking lots for business - other than parking - such as placing tables.)
During the presentation, City Manager Andy Hall showed photos of Bibby’s which set up a table with merchandise on the sidewalk. The last resolution allows the city to use approximately $60,000 of federal funding though the Community Development Block Grant program to help small businesses with a loan program with an initial investment pool. The council was supportive of the ordinances to help the businesses.
“This is a good start to continue to look at alleviating pressure on the business community,” said Councilman Ed Spriggs.
The dissolution of the lighting district AD-67M, was also discussed. The lighting district is in the section of SR-75 the state has relinquished to the city. The district was created to raise funds to pay for the lighting cost.
Spriggs spoke against the dissolution. “Why do we want to eliminate a source of revenue which is long standing and legitimate?” he asked the council.
Mayor Serge Dedina suggested suspending payments by the businesses for one year. Hall explained that the cost to do the yearly assessment for the district is between $4,000 and $5,000 in order to receive $17,000 from the businesses.
Spriggs pointed out that businesses are assessed by the size of the lot and shopping centers and the new hotel will pay a larger share. “Getting rid of it entirely is paying their bills,” he said.
Spriggs made a motion seconded by Dedina to not include this resolution and come back with another one for a one year suspension of payments by the businesses. This ordinance was carried 3 to 2 with noes by Councilmen Mark West and Robert Patton. The other ordinances were carried unanimously.
In other business:
A moratorium on evictions due to the pandemic following Governor Newsom’s order through May 31, 2020 was carried unanimously. This ordinance is set to expire at the same time as Newsom’s order, the city created this ordinance so it could be extended if the governor also extends the state wide order.
Deputy City Manager Erika Cortez gave an update on the city response to COVID-19. She explained that city staff has been equipped with PPE and daily temperatures are taken. Telecommuting and alternative scheduling are in place. Public buildings are closed to the public. Common areas are sanitized continuously and one employee per vehicle is the norm. First respondents are ensuring the safety of high risk population and helping with logistical needs and testing. The city’s website and other social platform are being used for communication with the public. Other actions taken are a GIS map which is being prepared to show which businesses are open. Parks are open for walking, active sports and more within a single household or family. Beach is also open for water activities but subject to closure due to water pollution. The public is urged to adhere to social distancing and wear masks whenever they are in a business or within 6 ft of a person who is not a member of the same household.
A review of the fiscal year 2018-2019 audited financials statements was presented by Finance Manager Joann Gitmed. The revenue for FY 2019 was $36,674,213. The general fund revenue was $25,357,863 which is approximately 69 percent of the citywide revenue. The Sewer Enterprise Fund revenue of $5,615,950 accounts for about 15 percent of citywide revenue with the Internal Service Funds ($1,847,219) and the other governmental funds ($3,853,181) making up the remainder of the the revenue. The general fund revenue was about $6,600,000 more than the general fund revenue in FY 2018. The main source of the increase was property tax revenues collected in addition to the money received from the relinquishment of SR-75.
The next city council meeting will be held on June 3 at 5 p.m. via teleconference.