Round Hill businesses might soon get a bit of financial relief from the town, thanks to funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.
The Round Hill Town Council on Wednesday night became the first Loudoun town to discuss how it plans to use its funding allocation from the CARES Act. The council discussed an option to use about 25 percent of the $59,000 it receives—about $15,000—to distribute to in-town businesses as grants. The town could award those grants in proportion to the amount of commerce each business contributes to the town. The town staff would use gross receipt data from the March 20 business license applications to make that determination.
Mayor Scott Ramsey said that although all town businesses are open, operating and are not experiencing significant problems, “they are definitely taking a hit.”
Town Administrator Melissa Hynes said the town sent out a survey to 44 businesses to gauge how the crisis has affected them and only eight responded. In all, Hynes said the town has issued 30-40 business licenses, but less than 20 businesses have physical storefronts. Major businesses in the town include Tammy’s Diner, Round Hill Mini Market, Round Hill Grocery, The Exxon station, Round Hill Auto Services, House Paws Animal Hospital and the Savoir Fare catering company, which also operates the C’est Bon dinners-to-go storefront.
Ramsey said that combined, all businesses within the corporate limits provide the town with only about $44,000 annually from business license, meals and cigarette taxes.
“We’re a very small community, so it would be nice to give these guys a little bit of help,” said Councilwoman Melissa Hoffmann.
The CARES Act, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law in late March, set up a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to assist state, local, territorial and tribal governments. Of that amount, Virginia received $3.1 billion, $36 million of which is going to Loudoun County for one-time uses directly associated with COVID-19 pandemic response. Of that amount, a little more than $6 million will be distributed to the county’s seven towns, with $59,000 going to Round Hill. That amount, 0.16 percent of the county’s overall allocation, is based on the town’s 664-resident population, according to 2018 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The town should receive that money around June 1.
Under the provisions of the CARES Act, localities must use the funding to cover expenditures incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30. Any funds left unused by Dec. 31 must be returned to the state, which will be returned to the federal government.
Elsewhere in Loudoun, the Town of Leesburg will receive the largest portion of the county’s allocation—13.3 percent, or $4.8 million. Next in line is Purcellville, which will receive $892,000, followed by Lovettsville getting $187,000, Middleburg getting about $75,000 and Hamilton getting $56,500. Hillsboro will get the least, at 0.04 percent, or about $15,000.
Town Administrator Melissa Hynes said Round Hill would use the remaining $44,000 of its CARES Act allocation to pay for costs it has and will incur while operating amid the pandemic, such as health and safety supplies, setting up teleworking systems, cleaning the town office, paying staff overtime, parks and recreation maintenance, COVID-19-related signage and paying the town attorney for legal review of emergency measures.
Hynes said the town expects to incur about $30,000 to $40,000 in expenses related to the coronavirus crisis.
The Town Council is expected to vote to implement the business relief program at its next meeting and disperse the money tentatively by June 15.
Ramsey said the grants the town would offer this time around could be just the first round of business relief. He said the town could provide businesses with more money later in the year.