The Gila County Board of Supervisors, at its Nov. 3 meeting, approved a request for a 25% fee reduction in annual health establishment permits for businesses directly affected by the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Michael O’Driscoll, director of the Gila County Health and Emergency Management Department, submitted the request.

“The precautions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Arizona have particularly hit Gila County licensed food and beverage businesses hard,” he said. “The Arizona Department of Health Services benchmarks for reopening, standards for service, and capacity restrictions have kept many of the businesses permitted by the Gila County Health Division from opening, or if opened from operating at full capacity.”

He said the Gila County Health Division received a grant from the ADHS for $25,000 to continue compliance inspections with the COVID-19 benchmarks for licensed establishments.

“The yearly revenue on Gila County permit fees was $89,804.49 in 2020 and $89,317.33 in 2019. The additional funding will allow the Health Division to transfer staff salary to the new grant funding, freeing up $25,000 of the Environmental Health budget to apply as a 25% fee discount to establishments directly impacted by the COVID-19 Executive Orders.”

O’Driscoll added, the reduction in revenue will be 100% offset by the additional grant funding keeping the budget balanced for the fiscal year. The reduced revenue will be approximately $20,000.

“These funds can hopefully be used to offset some of the COVID-19 expenditures that our Gila County establishments have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Current fees for licensed food establishments/providers range from $220 to $50.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s something we can do for them,” O’Driscoll said.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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