Bismarck City Commission mulls help for bars, restaurants | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Bismarck City Commission mulls help for bars, restaurants

Dec 23, 2020

The Bismarck City Commission will be doing some further study on giving some financial breaks to businesses hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bars and restaurants have asked for some relief, possibly in the form of reduced license rates.

Commissioner Mark Splonskowski said he understands the challenges faced by the hospitality industry, especially bars.

"The cross-hairs were put directly on them," Splonskowski said. "This is a mess made by the state, and they've left it to us to clean it up as best we can."

Commissioner Steve Marquart said he thinks the Commission should approach the upcoming Legislative session to lobby for help for those impacted businesses.

"We have a sector of our community that's struggling," Marquart said. "We need to be advocates for them. And we need to help as much as we can up at the Legislature, to see what we can do."

Commissioner Greg Zenker said he worries about a potential “domino effect.”

"When everybody keeps coming to ask, I don't think we have enough moneyh to take care of everybody," Zenker said. "I struggle to pick groups of people where we can help, and where we can't."

Commissioners decided to form a stakeholder group to work on the issue.

This comes on the heels of Fargo deciding to freeze utility costs for bars and restaurants for the first six months of 2021, and rebate 2021 liquor license fees. Grand Forks has extended the 2020 licenses through 2021 – at a cost to the city of around $300,000.