Park City businesses with links to city councilors receive CARES Act monies through City Hall
Three businesses involving members of the Park City Council this week received federally funded grants that were distributed by City Hall and had dollar figures attached that were decided by other city councilors.
The municipal government on Wednesday released a list of businesses and not-for-profit organizations that received funds through a City Hall grant program designed to allocate monies received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, widely known as the CARES Act.
Corner Sports received $12,500 while The Corner Store Pub & Grill received $12,000, for a combined $24,500. City Councilor Max Doilney owns both of the businesses. Aloha Ski & Snowboard received $12,500. City Councilor Becca Gerber is the director of marketing at Aloha Ski & Snowboard.
The monies to the Doilney-owned businesses and Aloha Ski & Snowboard represent just a tiny portion of the overall grant program, but they are notable nonetheless with the involvement of elected officials. City Hall over the years has only occasionally conducted business in some fashion with firms linked to elected officials or provided funds to them.
All three of the businesses are closely related to the ski industry and suffered as the spread of the novel coronavirus forced an end to the 2019-2020 ski season several weeks early. Doilney’s businesses, notably, were shuttered for months and did not reopen until the start of the current ski season this week.
The grants represent one of the most important relief programs in the community, and the list of recipients shows City Hall broadly distributed the monies across business categories and the not-for-profit sector. City Hall distributed a combined $2.2 million to 155 small businesses or not-for-profit organizations.
The Mountainland Association of Governments, which is an Orem-based organization that serves local governments in Summit County, Wasatch County and Utah County, collected the applications on behalf of City Hall and assigned preliminary scores to each submittal based on a ranking system created by Park City officials. The ranking system for businesses provided extra weight to certain places, such as those that forward the critical priorities of the community or those that are owned by women, minorities or veterans.
The Mountainland Association of Governments provided the preliminary scores to City Hall. Two members of the City Council — Nann Worel and Steve Joyce — reviewed the scoring, assigned their own scores and crafted the dollar figures based on a combination of the two scores. The full City Council was not directly involved in the selections or the dollar figures.
Worel in an interview said the criteria for grants were applied across the applications and the businesses and not-for-profit organizations were “held to” the same standard. She said the applications from Corner Sports, The Corner Store Pub & Grill and Aloha Ski & Snowboard received extra scrutiny.
Joyce in an interview said the process was conducted in a regimented and equitable manner.
“We put the same rules there for everybody,” he said.
In an interview Doilney said he was not involved in the City Hall process as the grant applications were considered. He has applied for federal and state grants since the spring shutdowns, saying the assistance has helped “my businesses survive.” He said the applications from his businesses for monies distributed by City Hall from the CARES Act sought significantly more than what was awarded. Doilney also said he has business partners at both places and it would not have been fair to them to opt against seeking the assistance based on his role as a member of the City Council.
“It’s a small town. We all have connections,” he said.
Gerber in an interview said she was not involved in the grant application or the City Hall process and was not aware Aloha Ski & Snowboard sought monies until Wednesday.
“I had no part of it intentionally,” she said, describing that she wanted to ensure she was not involved should her employer submit an application and adding, “I kept myself out of the process.”
A list of CARES Act grant recipients can be found by visiting parkcity.org/government/covid-19/cares-grant-program.
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The Summit County unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.