Subcommittee Meeting on January 19, 2021
The meeting of the Appropriation Subcommittee was called to order at 2pm on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. The purpose of this subcommittee is to discuss strategies for the dispersal of monies from the recent stimulus package passed by Congress. The meeting was attended by the following: Kurt Ponchak, Debbie Hietala, David Stevens, Rafaella Diershaw, Bernie Kaiserian, Alan Risk and Bill Findley. Janet Chernoff attended to take notes and prepare the minutes. The meeting was held in compliance with the Sunshine Law and was open to all interested parties. Only the attendees listed above were allowed to speak.
Kurt Ponchak opened the meeting at 2pm and Janet Chernoff called the role. All parties approved the agenda that was sent out by email.
Kurt Ponchak confirmed that a copy of appropriations language was sent to all participants. The program is still waiting for instructions from the RSA on how the money should be distributed. Kurt told the group that he would like to have a report from the subcommittee for the March meeting of the Committee of Vendors. There should be more direction from the federal government after the transition to the incoming administration. Kurt cautioned the group that some vendors may not receive funds because distribution will be based on losses. Kurt told the group that they needed to create a schedule for future meetings. He also advised them that the RSVF had sent out a survey to all the vendors. He will forward the survey results to the subcommittee members and told the group that he plans to hold a couple of public hearings to get input from the vendors.
Bernie Kaiserian advised the group that the first thing that they need to determine is eligibility for the funds. A number of vendors operate more than one facility and there are a number of components to consider when determining eligibility. Kurt has broken down the groups into facilities with operators with a Type I, operators in a Type I with Type II facilities, operators with only Type II facilities and operators who left a Type I facility during the pandemic.
There was a discussion about how the number of facilities were determined. Bernie explained that the program has 101 facilities on public property (state, county or municipal), thirty-six facilities on federal property and one facility on private property for a total of 138 facilities.
The group then spoke about vendors in Type I and Type II facilities and whether a vendor in a Type II should receive a portion of the monies. Bernie reminded the group that there are vendors who only have Type II contracts. The group also discussed monetary assistance provided to operators as that is supposed to be considered when disbursing the funds. Loans were discussed and Kurt pointed out that these monies are not considered assistance if they are repaid. Bernie Kaiserian told the group that they will need to have operators self-report on what assistance they received. Debbie Hietala suggested that operators be requested to submit an application in order to receive a portion of the monies. Bernie felt that the program could not require an application from vendors, but agreed that the information needs to be collected as part of the process. The group discussed the possibility that some operators may want the option to refuse the money and how that would be handled.
Debbie told the group that she believed that only a few vendors did not have some type of loss and that for some vendors $11,000 will not cover the loss that they incurred. Kurt suggested that there should be a maximum on the amount given to any one vendor. Bernie said that the money should be allotted based on a share system. He said that the subcommittee needs to look at the percentage of loss and that determining eligibility will be challenging. The subcommittee needs to do more fact finding and look at the data.
The group discussed what data they needed and whether they should be comparing financial information based on vendors or facilities. Bernie suggested asking for a list of vendors and facilities from March – December 2020 and comparing it to the same period in 2019. He recommended looking at financial data comparing vendors to vendors and what facilities they operated and when. This will help the group to get an income comparison and look at the percentage of loss or gain. Kurt said that the group needs to look at vendor income as compared to facility income.
Rafaella asked for confirmation that only vendors in a facility in September 2019 would be eligible for monies from the appropriation and suggested looking at the vendors that would be ineligible for funds such as vendors with no losses. David questioned the information that a vendors had to be in a facility in September 2019 and said that he thought that the date was used to determine the number of facilities a program had and not a requirement to determine who receives money for losses. Bernie said that the group needs to review the legislation.
Bill Findley and Kurt Ponchak have separated vendors into five categories and Bill will send that breakdown to the group. Bill told the group that the legislation does not restrict the group to vendors who were in facilities in September 2019. He said that the date was used to determine the number of facilities in part because this legislation has been in process for several months and used data available at the time. Questions that will need to be answered are what the RSA considers a loss, whether a vendor had to be in a facility for the entire year and whether a loss is determined by a comparison between 2019 and 2020. It was suggested that data from the previous vendors could be used to determine a loss for a new vendor. Bill said that the subcommittee should not let these questions deter them from developing a procedure. He said that it should be relatively easy to determine losses for long time vendors and the group will also need to consider vendors who took on Type IIs to offset some of the losses from their primary facility. He recommended that the group make a plan for the standard vendor and that the others will need to be considered on a case by case basis.
In response to Kurt’s question Bill confirmed that most vendors get their reports in on time and that once the program receives the reports for December 2020 it should not take more than a couple of days to provide the group with a comparative report. Monthly reports for December are due by January 31, 2021. Bill will send the group his spreadsheet on facilities and transitions and told the group that some facilities will appear more than once. He also broke down the standard facility types to include stand-alone vending versus routes and also broke out stand-alone micro markets and military dining facilities.
The group will reconvene on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 3pm Eastern. The group adjourned at 3:25pm.