The Rochester City Council will consider a proposal Monday to spend $636,000 in federal funds to cover the cost of waiving restaurant and bar liquor license fees for a second year.
The funds would come from nearly $17.5 million the city is expected to receive over two years from the American Rescue Plan Act
Liquor license fees were waived last year because bars and restaurants were forced to close and reduce operations because of pandemic restrictions.
In February, the council asked the City Clerk’s staff to consider options for continued relief.
“One of the hardest hit sectors is the hospitality industry here in Rochester,” council member Mark Bransford said at the time.
A second phase of planned liquor license increases was to take effect this year, but the city council responded in December by holding off on those rate adjustments.
In a report sent the council this week, Christiaan Cartwright, Rochester’s license examiner, suggested the council pair the proposed waiving of new fees with plans to return to the previous path.
“In recognition of these waivers, and the continued revitalization of the local economy as the pandemic wanes and businesses reopen, we recommend a return to the previously agreed upon full license fees for the 2022-2023 liquor license cycle,” he wrote.
The council will discuss the proposal during its 6 p.m. meeting Monday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. .
The council also will discuss what could be done with the remaining funds during its weekly study session at 3:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers.
The council has already earmarked $70,000 from the federal funds to fund free admission to Silver Lake and Soldiers Field pools this year.
The broader plan being proposed by city staff would use the rest of the funds to recover budget losses, offset some future expenses and fund programs aimed at local recovery and economic inclusivity.
The city expects to receive half of the federal funds this year, with the second half being available in 2022.
With options to meet in-person or online, Monday’s council meetings will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of June 7 include:
• City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday in city council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
• City Council, 7 p.m. Monday in city council chambers of the city-county Government Center. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
• Heritage Preservation Commission special meeting, 5 p.m. Tuesday. Access information for the online meeting is available atwww.rochestermn.gov/agendas
• Human Services Advisory Board, 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Information for connecting to the meeting is posted at https://olmstedcounty.primegov.com/public/portal.
• Human Rights Commission, 6 p.m. Thursday in board chambers of the city-county Government Center.