Augusta Reducing Business Fees, Moving Deadlines For COVID Relief

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Source: The Augusta Chronicle 

Augusta leaders are giving small businesses a break on fees to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we know, businesses really suffered, starting in March,” Mayor Pro Tem Sean Frantom said at a Tuesday meeting. “We’re about to lose two restaurants downtown… It’s vital that we look at reducing the administrative fee for all businesses.”

The commission has talked about helping small businesses since the pandemic began. So far city efforts have included making forgivable $5,000 loans to very small businesses and awarding hazard pay to workers. The federal CARES Act created the Payroll Protection Program that authorized banks to make forgivable loans to businesses starting around April.

The fee cuts discussed Tuesday by Administrator Odie Donald include 15% off the $110 administrative fee charged all businesses applying for licenses while business license fees won’t be due until June 30, with both effective for two years. Alcohol license fees will be due quarterly, and late fees and interest are waived.

The city commission approved the cuts unanimously. “The commission sent a simple but strong message to business owners today – help is on the way,” Donald said in a statement.

Mayor Hardie Davis said the breaks are only “initial relief” for small businesses and that more will follow. In January, the commission can reexamine ways to spend $1.4 million in CARES Act funding to help small businesses, Donald said.

Read the article at The Augusta Chronicle here.