Let’s face it: every revenue-dependent entity in this country, from penny-scrapers to industrial giants, are facing serious shortages of cash this year, and most of them are looking for help from the federal government.
As of this week, the automobile industry is being considered for another federal relief package, the airline industry took a $25 billion federal handout because no one is flying, and millions of enterprises, large and small, took Payroll Protection Program money to cover their projected shortfalls.
And why wouldn’t they, considering that the PPP loans, while well-intended, were unfettered by rules and stipulations to prevent this flow of nearly free money from being diverted into inappropriate revenue streams.
This absence of restrictions is why the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors did nothing wrong by applying for and receiving $1.1 million in the first round of the Small Business Administration program. It qualified for a loan as a nonprofit organization, the money was there, and it was available.
In that sense, the OPA board’s actions were perfectly legitimate and done according to the letter of the law. The problem is that the letter of the law did nothing to distinguish between declining financial circumstances and urgent need.
What the PPP loan allows the OPA to do is continue on its budgeted path without having to revise its assessments or fees.
That’s the difference between the OPA and the small businesses for which this plan was supposed to have been created. The OPA does have the option, however unpleasant it might be, of revisiting its chief source of income and making some changes, while a business that has lost its customers has no such recourse.
No, the OPA should not have applied for payroll aid from the SBA, but with so few strings attached to that big pile of money available for the asking, it’s easy to understand why it did.