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Deadline for Carroll County Restaurant Relief set for Dec. 8

Time is running out for Carroll County restaurants to take advantage of a relief fund that allocated $1.2 million for establishments in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly $400,00 remains in the fund and local eateries have until Dec. 8 to apply.

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Jack Lyburn, the county’s director of economic development, spoke with Carroll County commissioners during a Thursday board meeting and gave them an update on the state-funded Carroll County Restaurant Relief Fund as well as about how many local retail businesses applied for the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.

It was good news on the retail front ― Lyburn said Carroll reached its $500,000 max with 142 applicants.

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“That program was a big success,” he said.

The restaurant fund has a lot of money that may go unused. Lyburn said the effort to dole out the remaining money by the end of the year has been akin to “teeth-pulling.” Carroll has approved 117 applications and awarded a total of $809,000, Lyburn said, leaving a balance of $392,000 with only a few days left for local restaurants to apply.

Four of 11 “service kitchen” establishments had applied as of this week, Lyburn said, among a total of 28 new applicants that could be funded.

The commissioners voted Nov. 19 to make service organizations with commercial kitchens eligible for the restaurant funding. The relief was opened up to included American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations.

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Lyburn said county officials have been trying to help them through the process, but even if all 28 get funded that’s only $196,000 from the balance.

The commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the Department of Economic Development to stop accepting restaurant applications at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Any money not awarded by then will be distributed to restaurants that were previously awarded funds.

Restaurants with nine or fewer full-time equivalent employees (30 or more hours per week) will receive an average of $5,000, while those places with 10-50 FTE employees will get about $10,000.

Lyburn suggested during the commissioners meeting one way to spend the remaining money would be to open up the relief to locally owned franchises. Those franchise owners would have to live in Carroll and run their establishments within the county. Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said he wasn’t a big fan of that idea because they likely have corporate programs in place to assist them.

Rothstein said the feedback he has received from local restaurants hasn’t been good in terms of how they are weathering the pandemic, so he liked the idea of giving the remaining funds to those that have already demonstrated need.

“They’re hurting,” Rothstein said. “These restaurants are just in a really bad situation. A couple more thousand dollars may be the way to go.”

Commissioner and board president Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said winter will be posing another hurdle for the struggling restaurants that are already dealing with capacity limits and less outdoor seating.

“As this weather changes, they’re into some challenging times ahead,” Wantz said. “It isn’t doing us any good, let’s get it back out to them. A couple grand means a lot for some of these.”

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