The following information is being shared in response to recent posts and other communication with questions about the City of La Crescent’s use of funds from The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Council meets (currently online via Zoom) on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, meeting dates may be altered due to holidays and is reflected on the City calendar.  Meetings are open to the public. Agendas for City Council and commission meetings are available via the City’s website https://www.cityoflacrescent-mn.gov/city-government/city-council/.

The City of La Crescent’s General Fund budget for 2020 is approximately $3.8 million, with total expenditures in 2020 in excess of $8 million. Of this $8 million, only $3,055,161 is levied from the taxpayers. The City also receives local government aid of $631,346. The remaining revenue comes from user fees, grants, etc. From the General Fund budget, the City of La Crescent operates the library, hockey arena, new swimming pool (which was kept open at significant expense during the summer of 2020 specifically for La Crescent residents), many parks, and an expanded summer recreation program. The City of La Crescent also maintains 30 plus miles of streets. Most other cities in Houston County do not offer these community resources, while most receive much more local government aid than La Crescent does.

The COVID pandemic has caused the City to experience shutdowns and limited access at many of these services, resulting in significantly reduced fee income. City Hall, including the license bureau, was also shut down for a period of time. The City has had to purchase specialty personal protection equipment, equipment and supplies to allow employees to work from home when needed, and modify systems to allow for online meetings. The City of La Crescent has kept all staff fully employed throughout the pandemic. Our staff have been on the front lines, putting themselves and their families at-risk every day, and nearly every department has faced paid, lost work time due to COVID.

It should also be noted that the City of La Crescent did not order any businesses to close or change operations—these restrictions came from the State of Minnesota.

In July of 2020 the City of La Crescent received $389,434 CARES funding to offset some, but not all, increased expenses due to responding to the current health pandemic. The City was required to submit monthly reports of how these funds were spent. Any money not spent on approved uses was to be returned to the State of Minnesota by November 15, 2020.  No individuals received any bonuses or pay increases from these funds. The City Council’s focus for the CARES funding was to minimize the impact on existing and future budgets.

CARES funding was available to municipalities and to small businesses. Approximately 70 La Crescent businesses received their own federal PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funding (which is public information) from the CARES Act via their banks. In total, almost $7,100,000 in PPP funds were awarded to La Crescent businesses.

Houston County received $2,266,245 in CARES Act funding, of which approximately $1,130,000 was earmarked for loans to small businesses in the county, distributed by the County’s Economic Development Agency.  Forty-one eligible La Crescent businesses received funding (most were awarded the maximum of $5,000.)  Seven businesses that were closed by the Governor’s order also received a second round of $1000 grants each.  The total amount that Houston County granted to La Crescent businesses was approximately $217,000.00.

In December of 2020 there has been additional Federal and State funding approved for individual businesses.  Local businesses may find helpful information at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options.

The City Council considered the future of the entire community when considering the use of the CARES Act funds.

We understand that this pandemic is a challenge for everyone, and we are sensitive to the concerns of each of our small businesses, as well as to the health and safety of our citizens.

For more information on available Small Business assistance programs from the State of MN please review the following links:

https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid/employers/small-business-help/

https://www.mnchamber.com/blog/covid-19-funding-loans-and-grants