Council Gives Bars and Restaurants a Break

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Bars and restaurants battered by Covid-19 precautions got a break from the Moorhead City Council Monday night … along with more good news Tuesday from the Clay County Commission.

The council voted unanimously to offer a six-month rebate on liquor license fees to establishments that have been closed twice during 2020 as part of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency order. In addition to shut-down orders in March-April and November-January, the businesses’ hours and capacity have been limited to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The resolution passed unanimously at this week’s meeting offers a six-month rebate on the on-sale fees paid annually by businesses that serve alcohol – effectively returning the cost of their licenses from July 1 to Dec. 31. Thirty establishments carry on-sale licenses. The refunds vary, from $250 for smaller businesses and about $3,000 for most to $4,500 for RiverHaven. The total amount refunded is $61,175.

Economic development consultant Derrick LaPoint opened the meeting with a rundown of Minnesota’s programs to aid suffering bars, restaurants, event centers and gyms. A total of $88 million is being passed directly to the establishments by the state. Qualified owners who can show 30% reductions compared to past tax returns have been receiving notifications in recent days; he said the Department of Revenue is expected to mail checks for the direct grants this week.

A second facet of the state program channels block grants directly to each county. Clay County’s share of $1.25 million will be allocated to local bars, restaurants, gyms and others affected by the executive order. Applicants must have a physical location in Clay County, be locally owned and operated, and have a permanent physical location. Home-based businesses and nonprofits are not included except for veterans organizations.

LaPoint and other city staff have been meeting with Clay County commissioners Jenny Mongeau and Kevin Campbell, as well as administrator Steve Larson to work out details. The amount of these grants has not been established; he said, and will depend on applications received by Jan. 24 on the website

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