The Heber City Council has moved to accept federal relief funding through the CARES Act in order to help with some of the costs associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Heber's share of CARES Act funding is just shy of $1.5 million and was determined by the city’s population. In order to accept the money, the city must agree to only use the funds to directly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money cannot be used to offset any city revenue shortfalls due to the crisis.
The first installment of the aid will be approximately $500,000 and Mayor Kelleen Potter says that money can go to work immediately.
“We have to put some of those plexiglass, you know, separators in the offices where the public comes,” Potter said. “One thing that has just come up is our little local theater that brings people to downtown can’t do their play indoors, so they’re doing it outdoors, and we’re going to use just a little bit of money to help them because they have to create a whole new stage and sound system. That’s an economic development thing that brings people down to support local businesses. A lot of PPE for the police, those types of things.”
Heber is expected to anticipate future expenses related to the pandemic through early December and any unused portion of the city’s relief fund will be returned.
Despite challenges over the past few months, Mayor Potter says Heber only experienced one month where local sales tax revenue was below 2019 numbers.
In addition to offsetting costs directly related to combatting the pandemic, the relief money can also be used to help out local businesses. Mayor Potter says tourism-based businesses have been hit the hardest but some have been able to adapt to the changing landscape and are experiencing successful summers.
“There’s some businesses that are doing just fine but the type of businesses that depend a lot on outside revenues are the ones that are struggling,” she said.
Mayor Potter stressed that the city is still very early in the process of accepting the aid package and more details about how the funds will be distributed will be forthcoming.