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Rockland to offer loans to downtown businesses

By Stephen Betts | May 19, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland City Council is scheduled to meet 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 20 on a proposal to create a loan pool of $100,000 for downtown businesses.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council is scheduled to vote May 20, on a program to offer loans to downtown businesses who have been harmed by the COVID-19 related shutdowns.

This would be the first time that Rockland has offered property tax dollars for loans. The city has previously used state Community Development money to provide loans for property owners for building repairs.

The money would come from the downtown tax increment financing account. That money is generated from property taxes paid by downtown property owners.

The City Council is scheduled to hold its online meeting 5:30 p.m. May 20.

On the agenda is an order to transfer $100,000 from the downtown TIF account to the loan program.

The no-interest loans will be up to $5,000 per business.

There are two options for borrowers. One is to have the loan repayment deferred until the property the person owns is sold at which time the loan will have to be repaid in full. The second is monthly payments for up to five years with the first payment to be made a year after the loan is granted.

The business must be locally owned and operated with 10 or fewer employees. The business must show a loss of revenues of 50 percent or more for the previous three months compared to a year earlier that is not covered by another government program.

The loan can be used for rent, mortgage, payroll, or other working capital.

Businesses located in the downtown district are eligible to apply. This is an area bordered by Park Street to the south, Union Street to the west, and Talbot Avenue to the north.

The loan committee with consist of the city manager, community development director, and finance director.

The City Council will also discuss at the Wednesday evening meeting the proposed closure of the downtown section of Main Street to increase pedestrian access for businesses.

The Council will also continue its review of the proposed 2020-2021 municipal budget, focusing on the police department, library, and outside agency funding requests.

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 20, 2020 10:37

THIS IS NOT RIGHT! NOT RIGHT AT ALL!!!!!!!  EVERY BUSINESS IN THIS CITY IS SUFFERING.  NO MONEY SHOULD BE GIVEN TO ONE SPECIFIC ORGANIZATION!  IT IS NOT FAIR NOR RIGHT!  WHAT ABOUT ALL THE SMALL BUSINESSES THAT ARE NOT ON MAIN STREET SUFFERING?  IS THE CITY GOING TO COME UP WITH MORE MONEY TO HELP THEM ??  I CALL THIS DISCRIMINATION!



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 20, 2020 08:45

I just read that we have a large group of potential investors in the area who may be willing to lend their new found fortune to local business for a small return.  Contact the Maine State Prison in Thomaston.  Actually the two stories are somewhat related.  Good intensions, poor decisions.  I hope someday Rockland taxpayers will decide what we really need are professional money managers running this town and not the rotating crop of local vegetables.  We have plenty of local banks whose job it is to lend money.  Lending, real estate and money management are not our long suits.  So I understand you are using Downtown tif money, but what about the other small business that unfortunately are not located Downtown ?  Hope this circus leaves town soon before the rest of us do.



Posted by: James York | May 19, 2020 21:41

Last week, we read how council was advising the city manager to cancel a 2% raise for city employees under union contracts (savings estimated at about 150K), this week council has found 100K to hand out in no interest loans to businesses downtown?  Perhaps it would be a good time to remind council that Rockland's median wages are well below state's median wages- and when this "unemployment on steroids" runs out it will be working family's in Rockland and surrounding communities will be hurting.  Save the 100K for the soup kitchens.  The Cares Act is already there for small businesses.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 19, 2020 16:50

Please, please tell me this isn't so.  My God those of us homeowners out here wondering how we will be able to pay our taxes and stay in our homes and Main Street steps up to the offering plate again.  I like to stay positive, but knew this was coming. OBSCENE. TIF or whatever it is OUR MONEY.



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