By GREG SCELLIN
The Geneva City Council met by teleconference for its April 6 regularly-scheduled meeting. Many believe this is the first-time ever for this type of format.
“We are definitely in very unusual times and using this form to operate this meeting goes along with that,” Geneva Mayor Eric Kamler said at the beginning of the meeting. “This could be the first time ever.”
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts approved the use of several new methods of conducting public meetings without violating the Nebraska Open Meetings Act in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First on the agenda was the creation of an Emergency Loan Program for small businesses inside the Geneva City Limits. The loan program is designed to provide short-term bridge loans to local businesses directly affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. The zero-interest loans will have terms of between six and 24 months in amounts of between $5,000 and $25,000. These loans will only be looked at by the Geneva Sales Tax Economic Development Committee after a business pursues state and federal avenues first. The economic development committee voted 3-1 to approve the program at its meeting on April 2. At the April 2 meeting, Kamler said he has been approached by two restaurant owners about a potential loan program. He also said, he could see 15 businesses potentially applying for the funds for a total loan amount of about $225,000.
Loan applicants will have to fill out the same paperwork that is currently needed to be considered for a sales tax economic development loan including current balance sheets, income and cash-flow statements from the last three years, a copy of payroll, a business plan, a personal finance statement of principals and a credit report. They must also show where they have gone through all the state and federal options, as well as meeting with the committee personally. The city council voted unanimously to approve the loan program.
“This is meant to be loans of a ‘safety net’ variety,” said Kamler at the April 6 city council meeting. “We don’t want this to be the initial line of defense…but, we need to help our current small businesses as best we can.”
Geneva City Attorney David Solheim said he sees the loan program fitting within the existing LB 840 guidelines for city sales tax use.
“It encourages businesses to maintain their existing pay roll,” Solheim said. ‘These businesses have basically funded this fund…they have built this fund…now, they are in a time of need.”
Once a business owner is informed from their bank that they don’t qualify for state or federal help, they should contact Geneva City Administrator Kyle Svec at the Geneva City Office, 402-759-3109, for information on this new loan option.
“We want to speed this up as much as possible,” Kamler said.
Other April 6 meeting notes included:
• Approved a variance for a new home planned to be built in the 19th Street Housing Development.