The city of Grover Beach is following the lead of other SLO County cities and offering a little financial relief to some businesses and residents that might be struggling to make ends meet amid the coronavirus pandemic.
At a special meeting on March 30, the Grover Beach City Council unanimously voted to suspend service disconnections and waive penalties and interest fees associated with late water and sewer utility payments
made from February through May. The urgency ordinance does the same for businesses that make late transient occupancy tax payments
, taxes charged to tourists renting rooms in hotels, inns, and other lodging facilities in town. Both payments do, however, need to be settled up with the city by Aug. 31.
FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
A LITTLE RELIEF With areas like the Oceano Dunes Vehicle Recreation Area closed due to COVID-19 safety concerns, the tourism Grover Beach depends on for revenue is all but gone, so the City Council recently voted to waive penalties and interest fees for late utility and tax payments.
“Tourism has essentially dried up,” Grover Beach City Manager Matt Bronson said at the meeting, “given the shelter-at-home orders.”
Bronson said Grover Beach isn’t facing the kind of revenue losses in transient occupancy taxes that more hotel-dependent towns are, and since the taxes will eventually be paid, the city won’t lose any significant revenue by waiving late fees and interest. The city does expect to lose more than $20,000 in revenue by waiving penalties associated with late water and sewer bills, but Bronson said that amount can be absorbed into the budget.
“We believe this is a prudent and empathetic step to offer some relief to our customers during these next few months,” he said.
Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee agrees.
Although Grover Beach isn’t as reliant on hotels and their guests as some other SLO County towns, Lee said it does lean on tourists for revenue, especially those visiting the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. With that closed down, Lee said a lot of residents—those working in the food service industry, in retail, and at ATV rental businesses—are suffering.
“We as a city are concerned about our residents and our businesses,” Lee told New Times, “and how they’re being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic." ∆