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City trying to recover cost of nearly $200K in gift cards

September 4, 2021 GMT

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A city in western Michigan is trying to figure out what to do with nearly $200,000 in gift cards purchased to support local restaurants businesses during the pandemic.

The cards were never formally approved by Muskegon city commissioners, though City Manager Frank Peterson said he got the blessing of four commissioners through email.

City attorney John Schrier said the gift cards should have been approved by the commission during a public meeting. The money came from the city’s economic development fund.

A committee led by Muskegon’s economic development director said businesses and philanthropists have been approached about paying 25%. The city would then sell the cards to the public at 75% of their face value, MLive.com reported.

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“Everyone had the best interests of the city and its merchants at heart,” Schrier said of the initial purchase.

Peterson said he wanted to help restaurants survive.

“Many of these establishments were new — less than three to five years old — and were not in a position to sustain a prolonged closure without a level of assistance,” he said.