Applications open next week for Breckenridge business rent relief program

Breckenridge Town Council has finalized plans for a business rent relief program. Town staff hopes to have applications available for businesses by Monday, Jan. 4.

As businesses continue to struggle with the financial impacts of COVID-19 restrictions, Breckenridge Town Council is rolling out a grant application process to help keep businesses afloat.

The grants are designed to help cover January and February rent in a tiered format based on how much of a decrease in sales a business has experienced.

The council first discussed the tiered grant program at a special council meeting Dec. 22 and met again Tuesday, Dec. 29, to hammer out the details. Council decided the decrease in sales should be calculated from March through November and compared with the same nine-month period in 2019. The figures are based on sales taxes that are remitted to the town.

Town Manager Rick Holman said using March through November instead of year-to-date metrics opens the program to about 15 additional businesses that show higher decreases in revenue in the nine-month period than year to date.

Town Finance Director Brian Waldes laid out four ranges for business losses that will tie to grant amounts: less than 20%, 20% to 29%, 30% to 39% and 40% and above. Council agreed that grant amounts should be $3,000 for businesses that fall in the 20% category, $4,000 for those in the 30% category and $5,000 for those in the 40% or more category, but town spokesperson Haley Littleton wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon that the grant amounts have not been finalized.

Council member Dick Carleton said he was willing to take away the previously discussed requirement that business owners who apply for the grant sign an affidavit that they will pursue the federal Paycheck Protection Program when available.

“That might not fit everyone’s model,” Carleton said. “People that don’t have a lot of staff and may or may not be in a situation where they can get people back to work right away, the (Paycheck Protection Program) might not work for them, and we don’t want to force people to take loans.”

Holman said the application simply could include a checkbox that a business agrees to seek any appropriate funding. Holman explained that as far as cost to the town, restaurant rent or monthly mortgage payments run about $4,300 while rent or mortgage payments are $4,000 on average for retail establishments. He predicted that for each month of relief, the grant program would cost the town $400,000 to $500,000.

“Basically, committing to $1 million, which we think you can absorb,” Holman said.

Mayor Eric Mamula said committing to provide rent relief in January and February will give business owners some sense of ease moving forward. Council members agreed to fund the program for two months based on the tiered grants, but businesses would have to apply separately for each month.

Council also discussed relief for about 160 businesses that aren’t required to remit sales taxes, such as law firms, accounting offices, architecture firms, massage or physical therapy centers and real estate offices.

Council decided to have these businesses apply for the tiered grant program based on estimates for 2020 revenue compared to 2019 revenue, which will come from tax returns. Mamula said the town expects that these estimates could be plus or minus 5% from actual sales. As part of the grant program, town staff will have the ability to audit businesses to make sure revenue estimates aren’t off significantly.

“It will be an estimate, it will be your best guess estimate, and we are counting on you as citizens of the town of Breckenridge to be truthful in your estimation,” Mamula said.

After discussion on various industries that could qualify for the grant program, Holman stated that real estate, marijuana retail and grocery businesses would be omitted from the program.

Holman said staff plans to have the grant program application available for businesses Monday, Jan. 4.

By the numbers

Anticipated grant amounts for January and February rent relief for businesses with revenue that is down 20% or more compared with 2019:

• 20% to 29% revenue decrease: $3,000 grant per month

• 30% to 39% revenue decrease: $4,000 grant per month

• 40% and above revenue decrease: $5,000 grant per month

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