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Council Passes Emergency Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Provide Utilities Relief

As part of a Special meeting of the City Council, members voted unanimously to approve two amended pieces of emergency legislation intended to help provide relief for small business and utility customers.

The focus of the meeting was on two pieces of legislation related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis:

Council Bill 119757, sponsored by Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, (District 2 – South Seattle and C/ID), passed with a vote of 9-0 and transfers $1.5 million in city funds to the Small Business Stabilization Fund, which will support vulnerable small businesses in Seattle that are facing financial uncertainty due to the public’s economic response to COVID-19. 

“The city is creatively thinking of every way it can to support Seattle businesses. Small Business Stabilization Fund grants will provide emergency working capital to small businesses to help them through this crisis. An additional amendment I sponsored included a request that the Office of Economic Development prioritize racial equity to the grant program, and requires OED to provide reports to my committee to ensure accountability,” Morales said.  

A forthcoming second council bill will further expand the Small Business Stabilization fund by transferring an additional $1 million in City funds. The legislation will be posted to the Introduction & Referral Calendar on Friday (March 20), and will be voted on during a future meeting of the Full Council.

Council Bill 119758, sponsored by Councilmember Alex Pedersen, (District 4 – Northeast Seattle) passed in a 9-0 vote and waives interest charges on delinquent utility bills during this crisis. This legislation relates to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s announcement that Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will provide other utility relief for residential, small business, and nonprofit customers, including flexible payment plans and no shut-offs during this crisis. 

“With this public health emergency becoming an economic crisis, all levels of government need to provide immediate financial relief, including for the utility bills that all households, small businesses, and nonprofits face each month. With necessary public health protocols resulting in restaurants, cafes, and other social establishments closing, many of our neighbors are seeing reduced paychecks or layoffs — and the last thing they need to worry about are bills for essentials like electricity, water, and garbage removal.  This legislation I sponsored with Mayor Durkan and adopted by the City Council today waives all late fees for these utility bills to provide additional relief for hundreds of thousands throughout Seattle during this crisis,” Pedersen said. 

The Small Business Stabilization Fund is geared toward businesses with 5 or less employees that have experienced a loss of income due to impacts related to the COVID-19 emergency. Business owners must have a household income at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income. 

For information on eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit OED’s website. Applications are expected to close on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 

To access deferred payment plans through Seattle City Light or Seattle Public Utilities, customers can call 206-684-3000 or send an email here. Professional translations for City utility services are available when you call 206-684-3000. *Información en español * Impormasyon sa Tagalog * 中文資訊* Thông tin bằng tiếng Việt * 한국어 정보 * Macluumaad Af-Soomaali ah

On Monday, March 23, the City Council will hold its regularly scheduled, audio-only, meeting at 2:00 p.m. At that time, public comment will be accepted via email.  Members of the public and media can access the meeting on SeattleChannel.org/watchlive or by phone: Council Listen Line: 206-684-8566.

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