FORT SCOTT, Kan. — Fort Scott commissioners are looking to take action their response to COVID-19.
Two proposals on Tuesday night’s agenda featured initiatives for disaster response — one adopting a local state of emergency and the other working to aid small businesses within the community. Here are the details:
State of Emergency
The city commission considered a local state of emergency, which coincides with orders issued by both the State of Kansas and Bourbon County. The resolution didn’t pass, but did see a good amount of discussion.
Under the order, meeting times would have decreased to only once a month on the first Tuesday until Governor Kelly’s executive order is lifted.
The resolution would have gone into effect immediately and stayed in effect until further action was taken by the commission, or until the Bourbon County State of Disaster Emergency expired.
The local state of emergency would have also granted the city manager, Dave Martin, power to execute all city decisions without prior approval from the commission. He would update the commission on past decisions at each monthly meeting.
Although they had full faith in Martin to make the right decision, the commission did not want to make any hasty decisions and therefore rejected the resolution.
Revolving Loan Program
The other hot topic surrounding COVID-19 was a program that would help retain jobs within the community by keeping small businesses afloat. Through Community Development Block Grants, Kansas community
The Revolving Loan Program is an emergency tool for businesses in the form of grant funding. The City of Fort Scott has more than $260,000 through the Kansas Department of Commerce and will be able to help more than 25 local businesses.
Companies can apply online for the $10,000 grant, or can email their completed applications to Rachel Pruitt, the city’s Director of Economic Development. Although applications are submitted to the city, the State of Kansas will review the final paperwork and decide where the money will go.
Commissioners, some who own businesses of their own, were very mindful of their discussion about the program. Some believed that the grants could be cut in half to $5,000 and keep twice as many businesses on their feet during the pandemic. Others thought that although $10,000 may not do a lot for business operations, it was still something.
Once approved, the city must give at least 24 hours notice of the program and application process. Since the decision was made late Tuesday evening, city staff could have the program ready to go as early as Thursday.
Live Streamed Meetings
City leaders will reconvene next Tuesday for the first meeting in April. That meeting will start at 6 pm, but doors will only be open to commissioners and necessary staff.
Meetings will be streamed live on Facebook and Youtube to follow the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA). More information on how to watch or listen in can be found on the city’s website.