With a deadline approaching to pass out money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Detroit Lakes City Council is encouraging businesses to apply for emergency grants.

The Detroit Lakes City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 13, approved more than $127,000 in CARES Act funding and extended the pandemic emergency declaration through Nov. 10

The funding is in addition to the $337,320 of CARES funding already approved at the council's previous meeting in September. The city has $249,281 in CARES Act funding remaining and encourages any businesses that qualify for emergency relief to apply before Monday's deadline.

"If there are any businesses out there that haven't applied yet to the city, or the county, they should still do so," said Bruce Imholte, alderman-at-large

Nearly $25,000 of the approved CARES funding is to reimburse the city in refunded liquor licensing fees, which the city has not collected since March.

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"We've got money out there and it isn't often that the city and the government gives money away to help businesses and this is the time," said Ron Zeman, first ward alderman. "I don't want to see anybody hurt by what has happened with the COVID because I know a lot of businesses have lost a lot of sales, and they've got bills to pay, and invoices to pay, and if they need help, this will certainly help them out on it."

A member of the West Central Initiative, a nonprofit community foundation, updated council members on the grants they have issued to members of the Detroit Lakes community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rebecca Petersen, director of development for West Central Initiative, updates the Detroit Lakes City Council on the groups area-grant funding. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
Rebecca Petersen, director of development for West Central Initiative, updates the Detroit Lakes City Council on the groups area-grant funding. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

"Our early childcare providers expressed extreme need, so we were able to make more than $350,000 in child care grants," said Rebecca Petersen, director of development for the West Central Initiative.

The organization approved 68 emergency childcare grants to assist center-based childcare centers and homebased centers in the Detroit Lakes-area, totaling $39,000.

West Center Initiative also made a "resiliency fund" aimed helping organizations with emergency preparedness and safety funds. Eight Resiliency Grants, totaling more than $54,000, were made in the Detroit Lakes-area. The group is now accepting new resiliency grant applications through October and plans to spend an additional $350,000 in grant money in January.

The council also approved new utility rates for 2021. While electric and sewage rates will remain the same, the average residential water bill will increase an average of $1.35 per month.

"For our city to only have a $1.35 a month increase, it's unbelievable," said Zeman. "Neighboring communities aren't having that same type of situation. Their rates are going up, so our citizens are very fortunate because it does help them."

Approval was also given for the 2021 electric repatriation rate of $0.0191 per kilowatt hour through customer-owned generation like wind, or solar power, that is sold back to Detroit Lakes Public Utilities.

The council held its regular monthly meeting at the Historic Holmes Theater because of the pandemic.

The next regular City Council meeting is Nov. 10.