To help city businesses affected by the shutdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Ball Ground City Council approved some financial assistance at Thursday night’s meeting.

“Right now, because of some grants the city was fortunate enough to receive, we’re a little bit ahead of normal right now in the budget, we’re doing pretty well,” City Manager Eric Wilmarth said. “We know that some of our businesses, many of our businesses have suffered in a way because of COVID. I think everybody’s been on the same playing field.”

When orders came down from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office earlier in the year, forcing businesses deemed non-essential to close for a period of time, there were businesses throughout Ball Ground that were included in the temporary closing, while some of the city’s restaurants were unable to use their pouring licenses and serve patrons alcoholic beverages unless they were still in a sealed container. After conversations with other city officials, Wilmarth said the city came up with a solution for these affected businesses that were impacted by the order.

“You (the business) had purchased from us an occupation tax certificate, or a business license, to be able to do business in Ball Ground, and you expected to be able to do business for the entire year. We didn’t allow that,” Wilmarth said. “So, we are looking to those businesses to refund the business license fee, the occupation tax certificate that they paid. We also have a number of restaurants that had pouring licenses that were forbidden from pouring for a period of time. We are looking at reimbursing a pro-rated amount of that license when they were not allowed to use that license.”

After putting together a list of the businesses that were affected in either of these ways, the amount to be reimbursed came to a total not to exceed $10,000. Wilmarth this was a way the city could acknowledge the impact the order had on the businesses and could assist in some small way.

“Every two weeks, I’m part of a Cherokee leaders Zoom meeting with all the other mayors and the school superintendent and legislators and the hospital administrator,” Mayor Rick Roberts said. “Most of the cities in the county, and the county as well, are doing this. They’re offering a refund or a rebate or a grant to businesses to assist those that were cut back or had to close due to the pandemic or restrictions put in place by the state. Certainly our businesses are important and I’m very much in favor of not being the only city in the county that isn’t stepping up to help our businesses as we can.”

Although the city was still putting the final touches on details for the program, Roberts and Wilmarth wanted to go ahead and bring it before the council so it could be approved and put in place once everything was ready. Councilman John Byrd put forth a motion to approve the measure, with Councilman Lee Prettyman providing a second and the council voting unanimously to pass the motion.

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