New Orleans waits for hundreds of millions of stimulus money amid bars, restaurants call for help
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The city of New Orleans has said it could be more than a month before it decides how to spend around $ 375 million on stimulus funds.
Some say it’s time to give dozens of hard-pressed bar and restaurant owners a break.
Some have been closed, others have been forced to face strict occupancy limits due to COVID-19 and for the past year they have been struggling.
“We’re like a lot of bars that played by the rules but due to the pandemic we couldn’t open and suffered a significant loss of income,” said Steve Watson, owner of Kingpin Bar and Midway Pizza.
Now some are seeking help with the nearly $ 375 million in stimulus funds just approved by Congress.
Board member Kristin Palmer is calling for license and permit fees to be waived or pushed back to give struggling bar and restaurant owners a chance.
“This is not a document, let’s be clear. Many of these bars and restaurants were unable to open due to COVID restrictions, ”Palmer said.
City officials say it’s too early to say where the money will be used.
“The next step is to go to the Treasury Department. They will issue guidelines as to where the money can be allocated, ”city spokesman Beau Tidwell said.
The money could help re-provide full-time work for 805 city workers still on leave or restore the wages of 271 who had their wages cut.
Once the Treasury Department determines how the money can be spent, city officials say the first order of business will be to pay off a loan taken out to help absorb COVID-related expenses.
“The immediate priority is to restore the workforce to the workforce and then pay off the loan taken out last year,” Tidwell said.
Council member Palmer said with or without the stimulus money in hand, the city should give struggling bars and restaurants a break.
“It’s our neighborhood businesses that are least likely to wait until the end of the economy,” Palmer said.
“The details of what the board member wants is one of the many options,” Tidwell said.
The city says it wants to have cash on hand before making any promises, citing promises made under the Care Act that it says have not been followed.
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