MIAMI - Florida’s exclusive Fisher Island, home to the wealthiest zip code the country, ultimately voted to reject $2 million in federally-approved coronavirus relief allocated to the community’s homeowners’ association as part of the government's Paycheck Protection Program meant for small businesses, a resident said.
Fisher Island Community Association, the main homeowner’s association on Fisher Island, announced last week it had been granted the loan request submitted at the beginning of April.
But the prospect was shot down by residents who voted to return the money to the government, Fisher Island resident Matthew Barnes said in an email to FOX Business.
“Fisher Island’s [homeowners’ association] fees alone are around $30,000 [per] year. Some of this fee covers private ferry service to take us to our homes,” Barnes said in a statement. “So I think to myself, wait, is it the right thing to do to take $2,000,000 from the government, much of which we wouldn’t have to repay… to help cover the costs of our private ferry to our home and staff to clean our pools? Well the answer is simply no.”
A FICA spokesperson did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
Fisher Island is home to approximately 800 families and is home to the Fisher Island Club, which charges a $250,000 membership fee, the Miami Herald previously reported.
The Herald was also first to report the news that FICA had considered applying for – and was later approved for – the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program loan.
The PPP loan gives grants to businesses with fewer than 500 workers so that they can maintain payroll and pay rent while shutting down their businesses during social distancing edicts.
None of the 130 union employees who work for the association had been laid off amid financial concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a union spokesperson previously told the outlet.
Barnes said residents voted on Friday, with roughly 4 percent of votes to keep the money, while 9 percent said they wanted to send it back and the remaining 86 percent kept their opinions to themselves. The final vote to shoot down the money was executed on Friday.
“We are going through a tough time right now in our country. We need to get money to small businesses ASAP,” Barnes said. “Many need the money to get through this. This isn’t a smash grab by the elite. We need to save small businesses.”
It was not immediately clear what the association had planned to do with the money if residents had voted to take it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Read updates at FOXBusiness.com.