Sequim council votes to continue business grants

New city manager absent from meeting

SEQUIM — Sequim City Council members have unanimously agreed to allocate up to $250,000 in grants through the city’s Small Business Rapid Relief program.

The amount agreed upon Monday night was in addition to the $500,000 the city has disbursed to local restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New City Manager Matt Huish, who began work Nov. 1, was unavailable for Monday’s council meeting, which would have been his first. City staff confirmed he worked his first week, Nov. 1-5, and that he had planned to attend the council meeting. They said only that he was unavailable. He is anticipated to be recognized at the council’s next meeting on Nov. 22.

Sue Hagener, Sequim’s administrative services director, said in a telephone interview that 58 businesses in city limits received the funds, with some receiving two separate grants in different application sessions.

Funding comes from the city’s Rainy Day Fund, she said, with about $174,000 reimbursed from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

Hagener told council members that $435,000 was budgeted to go back into the Rainy Day Fund and that, in October, it was reported that August was the highest month for sales tax revenue ever.

“Our restaurant population is making it through this,” she said.

City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said the former executive director of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, Anji Scalf, was “a critical component of distributing the funds,” so the city likely would need to reach out to another agency.

Mayor William Armacost said the high sales tax figure was excellent news and that city staff should consider reaching out to an economic development agency to see if they can partner with the city in helping determine grant recipients.

He added the fourth quarter is an important time to retailers and “another opportunity we can reach out and give them this hand up.”

Armacost encouraged the council to consider adding non-restaurant/bar businesses that are in need to those eligible to apply.

Council member Keith Larkin said many restaurant owners he’s spoken with are not getting days off; they are working long hours and could use some support.

Hagener said it’s unknown when staff can reengage the program and begin accepting applications as staff reach out to economic development agencies for assistance.

“We have no idea of the capacity to support this,” she said.

Previously, applicants went through the Chamber of Commerce’s website and the city had representatives involved in the application-vetting process and check disbursal.

The chamber didn’t charge a processing fee for the first set of funding, and it had a 10 percent administrative fee, or about $10,000, for the second round, Hagener said.

“We need some time to see what we’re going to do and see who we’re going to work,” she said in a telephone interview.

City staff said to check the city’s website for potential updates at www.sequimwa.gov.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

More in News

A vehicle inches its way down a hill in the 100 block of South Liberty Street in Port Angeles after snow coated much of the North Olympic Peninsula on Thursday morning. Unsettled weather and chilly conditions are forecast into next week. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Snow totals modest, spotty on most of Peninsula

Driving dangerous in some areas

Tyler Gage photographs a fire engine while Adam DeFilippo finishes decorating the old fire engine in preparation for two Operation Candy Cane programs in Port Angeles. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Operation Candy Cane launched by firefighters

Two departments gathering donations in Port Angeles; Sequim starts Monday

Clean Fuel Standard and Climate Commitment Act set to launch Jan. 1

Regulations intended to meet emissions goals

Raccoon Lodge gets options for preservation

Artist has until Dec. 30 to decide piece’s future

Fire District 3 to add battalion chiefs, firefighters

Officials mulling levy lid lift in 2023

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement chase boats follow the ferry MV Coho during an armed passenger drill on Tuesday near the mouth of Port Angeles Harbor.
MV Coho part of drill

Two 45-foot response boats and a 29-foot response boat from U.S. Coast… Continue reading

Man airlifted to Harborview following 104 wreck

A Moses Lake man was upgraded from critical to serious… Continue reading

Coast Guard medevacs woman from Forks to Canada

The Coast Guard medically evacuated a 42-year-old woman in critical… Continue reading

Accused murder likely to have lesser charges dropped

Lesser charges filed against an Agnew man accused of… Continue reading

Most Read