- Rich Klein
EDITORIAL: Paycheck Protection Program Exposes Greed Among Local Businesses/Organizations
In 2020 and 2021, hundreds of businesses and organizations based in Sullivan applied for "loans" from the federal government under the Paycheck Protection Program that was intended to continue paying employees during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SullivanTimes yesterday began (for the second time since 2020) perusing through the records and the results were often jaw-dropping.
Yes, many small businesses needed these funds desperately to continue paying employees. But many others did not, especially when you look at some of the very large amounts of "loans" (that were nearly all forgiven) in proportion to the number of employees.
Take, for example, the Monticello Motor Club, which (for its gold membership) charges $150,000 for the initiation fee and an additional $15,750 in annual fees per person. People like Jerry Seinfeld (coincidentally from my hometown) are members. Yet, the Motor Club cried poverty and received two payments of $681,500- in 2020 and 2021 to cover a reported 94 employees' paychecks at the track.
Then, there's the Center for Discovery, which received $10 million to cover 500 jobs in April 2021.
Sure, the Center is the largest employer in the County and they do great work.
But, in early 2022, The Center also received $2 million in a "pass through grant" from Sullivan County (taxpayers) to help the organization battle COVID in February of THIS year.
Here's the Center's latest 990 form that was filed with the IRS in 2020. Did they really need $10 million from America's taxpayers?
Then, there are other examples of small business owners and non-profit executives who took very little from the taxpayer-funded program, including some who probably could have legitimately asked for more but didn't. KUDOS to those who asked for only what they needed.
But, sadly, too many business owners and non-profit executives gamed the system. Keep them in mind when you decide whether to patronize their businesses or support their causes.
On our Facebook page, we have started naming some business owners, companies and organizations that received payments by their zip code. We started the process yesterday but you can do it yourself by using the search bar provided by ProPublica here.