City awards more ARP funding to nonprofits

Combining for more than $204,000, four nonprofit organizations received final approval to be given American Rescue Plan funds from the city.

During a meeting Monday night, the Seymour City Council OK’d the second reading of four ordinances to award the funding, which is being divvied out as part of the city’s $4.16 million in federal pandemic relief funding.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 will receive $20,000, and American Legion Post 89 will receive $50,000, both to put toward building repairs.

The Arc of Jackson County was awarded $34,503.82 to make updates to a group home on Evergreen Drive that it owns, and Immanuel Lutheran Child Care Ministry was given $100,000 to recover funds lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those all received approval on first reading from the council during the Oct. 24 meeting.

A fifth request from a nonprofit organization came from Sweet Cheeks Diaper Pantry for $15,000, but a question was raised because the city’s ordinance governing ARP funding requests requires the entity to have experienced losses from COVID-19 between Jan. 1, 2020, and March 3, 2021.

Sweet Cheeks Diaper Pantry started in September when First Presbyterian Church gave the organization $15,000 in seed money to purchase diapers for those in need.

Councilman Bret Cunningham said while he thought the organization was providing a needed service and could be worthy of funding, he could not vote for providing it with ARP funds since it didn’t meet the time period requirement. A couple of others, including council President Dave Earley, said they understood his reasoning.

Councilman Jerry Hackney, who chairs the finance committee, said while the need to provide diapers for people probably existed before the pandemic, it became worse during that time period. That’s why the request was advanced to the council with a favorable recommendation.

The council decided to table Sweet Cheeks’ request until it could be reviewed by city attorney Chris Engleking to determine if there was a way the request for the help by the organization could be met with ARP monies.

During Monday’s meeting, Hackney said nothing could be found to allow distributing funds to an entity that didn’t exist before March 3, 2021.

“I apologize to the ministry, to the council for the previous recommendation, but this now comes to council with an unfavorable recommendation from the finance committee,” he said.

The ordinance was amended to reflect that, and that passed 7-0. An ensuing motion to reject the ordinance also was approved 7-0.

The second reading of the ordinances for the VFW and The Arc both passed 7-0, while the vote for the American Legion was 6-0-1 with Councilman Chad Hubbard abstaining due to his involvement with the post.

For the final second reading, the child care ministry requested $85,470 due to lost revenue during the pandemic when it was shut down and not always charging families for tuition payments during that time.

Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson pointed out the initial request was $100,000, and Hackney said that was lowered when the committee looked at the net income during the time period and determined the actual loss.

When Hackney asked for comments from the public, the ministry’s director, Katlynn Schnitker, addressed the council. She said the $85,470 was based on the financials she had to show over a three-month period at the start of the pandemic in 2020, but there were other times later on when the center experienced lost revenue.

“There were still other times throughout all of COVID that we were maybe shut down, and we didn’t have the true financial statements for those just due to being weeks here or there and the difficulty of going back and finding those specific things,” she said.

The extra $14,530 initially requested to make it $100,000 total would be beneficial due to how the pandemic has impacted the ministry as a whole, Schnitker said.

“We are just opening up a new classroom — which construction and things were expensive for those things, as well — to meet that need of that child care desert here in Jackson County,” she said.

Hackney said a councilman would have to make a motion to amend the ordinance, and Cunningham did that. Councilman Matt Wheeler seconded, and that was approved 6-0-1 with Councilman Drew Storey abstaining due to his involvement with Immanuel. Then the second reading with the amendment was approved by the same vote.

These requests follow the council approving $802,545 in ARP funds for 11 nonprofit agencies in late September after several meetings to debate the eligibility and amounts requested by those entities. Earlier in the year, the council OK’d a $200,000 request from Child Care Network to go toward a child care center in downtown Seymour.

The city has until the end of 2024 to obligate the ARP funds, which must be spent by the end of 2026.