Vergennes seeking to dole out money from the revolving loan fund

VERGENNES — Vergennes officials are looking for a resident to volunteer to serve on a committee that helps award loans to Vergennes businesses from a city revolving loan fund — and they would like to find a business that might need such a loan.
Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley told council members at their Dec. 19 meeting the fund, formally called the Maynard Building Revolving Loan Fund, has $60,000 available to lend out to city business.
“I’d like to put that money to work,” Hawley said in an later interview.
The loan fund originated from a Community Development Block Grant in the 1990s to renovate the Maynard Building, a Main Street property. According to the terms of the block grant, once the loan made from the grant was repaid, the city had the discretion to loan the funds out to enhance its business climate.
Most recently the city has twice used the fund to make loans to Shear Cuts, a beauty salon at 171 Main St. In 2008 the seven-member loan fund committee, for which the council now seeks a citizen volunteer as an at-large member, recommended to the council that it loan money to Shear Cuts to help it move from Panton Road to Main Street.
In 2011 the council backed a loan to Shear Cuts that allowed the business to consolidate debt, pay the firm’s share of the cost of handicap-access ramp for its building, add a nail salon, and pay off the balance of the 2008 city loan.
As well as the resident needed to complete the committee and a business to which to loan money, the city council also must identify a one of its own members to join the committee. Hawley said Alderwoman Lynn Donnelly had been serving on the committee and would do so again, but wondered at the meeting if another council member would take her place.
In other business on Dec. 19, the city council:
•  Declined to chip in another $1,100 on top of the $1,000 it had budgeted to pay for holiday lights on the city green. Downtown business owner Shannon Mahoney volunteered to spearhead the effort this season and said she spent about $6,400, according to Hawley, and had raised about $4,300 on top of the city contribution.
Hawley said the council reached a consensus that it would stick to the budgeted amount, noting the 2016 display cost $740. Mahoney, he said, was upset with the decision.
•  Made a $400 donation to the Addison County River Watch Collaborative. Hawley said that money had been budgeted, but for bookkeeping purposes an official act was necessary.
•  Donated $150 to the Vermont Rural Development Council, the group that held a well-attended community visit several years ago that ultimately helped in the creation of the city’s Downtown/Basin Master Plan. Hawley said that money came from a small miscellaneous line item in the administrative budget.

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