Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

Nearly 40 businesses benefited from the City of Maricopa’s distribution of AZCares funds, with over $560,000 disbursed. The funds are to cover the costs of rent and personal protective equipment incurred by COVID-19.

Money went to storefronts and home-based businesses through the Maricopa Business Reemergence Program. Funds were also made available to a handful of organizations through the Maricopa Food & Aid Distribution Non-Profit Assistance Program.

In authorizing the allocation of the funds, Maricopa City Council also critiqued how the program performed. City Manager Rick Horst described a “glitch” in the system that caused a few applications that had been filed before the deadline to be held back and not delivered to staff.

“I don’t know if it’s our system or their system or what,” Horst said.

Some applications showed up shortly after the July 6 deadline. Two others, from Chris Cahall Agency LLC and Copa Resale LLC (The Boutique), came in a couple of days before Tuesday’s council meeting. Horst said one more arrived the day of the meeting and could not be added to the agenda.

“We’ve checked, and we have every reason to believe that they really did apply,” Horst said of the latecomers. “We were trying to ascertain that these were legitimate applications that were submitted on time. These are not late applicants, just ones that were caught up in the system.”

Councilmember Henry Wade, who said he typically has nothing but praise for city staff, said, “The optics don’t look very good in that regard.”

If applicants were able to show evidence from emails or other paperwork that they had filed on time, Horst said they were likely to accept that. “If we err, we err on the side of supporting our businesses and not on the side of shutting them out.”

On the opposite end, councilmembers Marvin Brown and Vincent Manfredi were disconcerted that not as many businesses applied as expected. Vice Mayor Nancy Smith said the same happened at the county level and in other Pinal municipalities.

“You would have thought there would be an avalanche of applicants,” Brown said,” and the fact that there were not gives you pause in terms of why not, because clearly there was a need.”

Both said the application paperwork was very simple.

“Some of them did not apply because they said they’ve been doing better than they’ve ever done,” Horst said. “Others said, ‘I got a lot of money through the federal and state programs, and I didn’t want to be redundant.’ I think their honesty speaks a lot about the businesspeople we have in our community.”

Wade said he was unsure of the formula used by the specially created committee or how businesses were notified.

“I’m just reiterating what was screamed at me as I was having a conversation,” he said, adding the perception would be that City Hall was inept.

Councilwoman Julia Gusse said the concern shared with her by a constituent was they did not receive proper funding. Horst said the committee would be happy to review any application.

Vice Mayor Nancy Smith said councilmembers do not know enough about the details to give an informed answer to residents and said the best response was to direct them to Horst, who is part of that committee. No councilmembers were on the committee.

The City’s program spelled out the costs that would be funded:

  • Costs related to the purchasing of personal protection equipment (PPE) and other materials that help adhere to recommended COVID-19 health practices
  • Rent/mortgage payments from March, April and May 2020 due to financial burden caused by COVID-19
  • Other expenses including capital needs to enhance present and future capabilities.

Horst said some applicants did not supply good data and were not very responsive when the committee tried to contact them to clarify.

“Sometimes they had PPE items that were legitimate and some that were not, and it was difficult to pull those out even when we called them for information,” he said. “People had various ideas of what PPE means. It means personal protective equipment, meaning protecting yourself, protecting your employees, protecting those who come into your place of business. Others misconstrue that to mean different things.”

Horst said he learned from past experience that complaints should be expected no matter how well a program is run. “If you gave everyone a million dollars each, no questions asked, somebody would complain,” he said.

Wade said business owners gave him several reasons for not applying, from already having funding from other sources to the perception they wouldn’t receive money anyway because the council does not like them.

“This is the nature of dealing with people,” Mayor Christian Price said.

In approving the allocation, the council also granted leeway to city staff to act on legitimate applications that may still come through the system if they were, in fact, filed on time.

“I think the city staff did a tremendous job,” Gusse said. “And while it was new for the city staff it was also new to the individuals who were applying.”

Maricopa received $5.9 million from the state’s AZCares funds, which came from the U.S. Treasury’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bulk of that funding went to the Public Safety Department, including a Tuesday approval of $300,000 for Maricopa Police Department’s purchase of VirTral V-180 firearms training simulator and portable building.

Business Name                                                 Award

This and That Stuff LLC dba Yogurt Jungle     $11,850
Country Stylin’ Salon & Spa                                 $8,550
TTS Catering                                                            $2,460
Sports & Cuts Barber Shop LLC                          $15,000
Kitchen Queens Catering                                      $1,400
Monarch Zen Healing Arts                                   $1,850
CrossFit Maricopa LLC                                         $9,150
BlackStones Entertainment LLC                        $1,640
Honeycutt Coffee                                                   $10,200
Longevity Athletics                                                $11,600
Brooklyn Boys Pizzeria and Restaurant            $24,100
The New HQ, LLC                                                  $12,150
Maricopa Heritage Pointe                                    $4,500
AC Infantry LLC                                                     $1,000
Nails 4 U LLC                                                         $10,250
Suzy Rawlins, Independent Mary Kay              $1,300
Helen’s Kitchen and Catering                             $13,000
Desert Sun Performing Arts                                $12,400
Blue Cactus Preschool                                          $17,800
Wells Counseling Service, LLC                          $1,400
Native Grill & Wings                                            $4,000
Maricopa Wellness Center                                 $10,000
A-1 Health and Wellness                                    $11,050
Just Weeds LLC                                                   $800
Solutions Therapy, PLLC                                   $750
Outside the Box Marketing, Inc.~                   $500
Rusinski Law Firm LLC                                     $2,250
Tacos N More Mexican Grill                             $25,000
Sunrise Taekwondo                                            $19,200
Fyrestorm Enterprises dba Rockstar Cheer  $14,182
Liquidate Arizona                                               $8,975
Kooline Plumbing LLC*                                    $5,500
85239.com, LLC dba InMaricopa**               $8,900
Chris Cahall Agency LLC                                  $5,000
Copa Resale LLC                                                $3,100
Total:                                                               $290,807

Non-Profit Name                                        Suggested Award
F.O.R. Maricopa                                                $100,000
Graysmark Schools                                           $15,000
Maricopa Pantry INC                                       $35,000 (Contingent)
Against Abuse                                                    $18,756
Boys and Girls Club                                          $100,000 (Contingent)
Total:                                                              $268,756



Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner of InMaricopa.