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Tuesday, Sep 29th

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Grants to support local governments, businesses

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Gallup mayor feels disappointed

On the first day of September, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Dept. of Finance and Administration announced $150 million in CARES Act grants to local governments across the state to cover the costs brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In applying for CARES Act funds, Gallup Mayor Louis Bonaguidi said he took into account the three city lockdowns, police checkpoints and setting up motel rooms for homeless people being tested for COVID-19.

Bonaguidi told the Gallup Sun Sept. 1 that there was some confusion about how to fill out the request for the grant.

A news release from Gallup City Clerk Alfred Abeita says Gallup requested about $1.7 million for the local government and received $918,581, a shortfall of $790,406.

Sen.George Muñoz, D-Gallup, told the Sun Sept. 2 that the city didn’t ask for enough money. Muñoz said the cost alone to reimburse the Gallup Police Department from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, would amount to roughly $3.5 million.

“They should have asked for another $7 million [for the city],” Muñoz said.

The mayor said at first he and the finance committee didn’t know what the criteria was for the application for the CARES Act funding.

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Bonaguidi said the city CARES Act funds must be disbursed by Dec. 31. In the meantime he will be looking into an appeals process to garner more money.

“We’ve had to cut the [city] budget by $7.5 million,” he said. “We laid people off. We’ll use the money to cover the basics that we’ve written into the application.”

Equally discouraged was Jennifer Lazarz, tourism and marketing manager for the city, and grant writer for the CARES Act, who spoke to the Gallup Sun Sept. 2.

“I feel that the state did not adequately consider our needs for the city,” she said. “I was very disappointed.” Lazarz says there is no appeal to her knowledge. “We’ve spoken with our legislators and our lobbyists, We’re not necessarily appealing, but seeking additional appropriations.”

Lazarz said that 18 people worked on the application, but only three completed the project.

“We had $450,000 put into the grant [application], so that we could continue to house our homeless population that was at risk of COVID … into the fall [and] winter. We did not receive it,” she said.

She is not giving up, however. She says the city is currently in talks with the state to see if it can get that funding elsewhere.

When it comes to the application for CARES Act funding for businesses, Gallup requested $4 million. It received about $2.1 million, nearly $1.9 million less than it was  seeking.

Lazarz said she is twice as disappointed about that figure.

“Businesses are a backbone. This city has 800 business licenses … about half of them are non-essential by the governor’s standards … [Now] we’ll be able to help 200 businesses, instead of 400,” she said.

Lazarz still sees a bright side.  She says business grants will be available for non-essential businesses and the process for applying for these grants will begin no later than Sept. 14.

She adds that restaurants and bars will qualify for these grants since they could not remain open during the emergency public health orders.

By Beth Blakeman
Associate Editor

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