Commentary: MOCA should not be furloughing staff during the coronavirus crisis. Here's why

Commentary: MOCA should not be furloughing staff during the coronavirus crisis. Here's why

4/10/2020 2:18:00 PM

Commentary: MOCA should not be furloughing staff during the coronavirus crisis. Here's why

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act was designed for small businesses like MOCA. Using relief funds would help to keep the staff at full employment.

AdvertisementThe Small Business Assn. uses one of two criteria to determine whether a company — including a charitable nonprofit like MOCA — qualifies for assistance. What counts as a small business? An officialTable of Small Business Size Standardslists the rules.

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The size standards are mostly expressed in either millions of dollars or number of employees. A logging operation with fewer than 500 employees qualifies, for example, while a copper mining company with fewer than 1,500 also does.Museums use a financial standard. An eligible museum cannot have an annual operating budget in excess of $27.5 million. MOCA’s budget is about $20 million. It’s classic small business.

For the Payment Protection Program, a forgivable loan equal to 2½ times the monthly payroll, up to a maximum of $10 million, is available. Information on MOCA’s pre-pandemic monthly payroll was not immediately available from the museum. But a business that maintains its payroll for two months, while spending 75% of the loan on payroll costs, will have the loan forgiven.

More than 70 MOCA staffers are being fully or partially furloughed, with health insurance maintained but with substantial salary cuts. (For purposes of the loan program,an eligible employee’s compensation cannot exceed $100,000.) All 97 part-time workers — including gallery attendants, exhibition installers, retail staff, education team members and AV crew — were

at the end of March.To be sure, theprocess for getting the PPP loan isn’t easy, a sad reality of the incompetence that characterizes so many aspects of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic crisis. The rollout of the program, which began last Friday, has been a fiasco.

The SBA is underfunded and understaffed to handle the enormous demand. So these emergency loans are instead being directly administered through qualifying banks.A lender receives a fee of between 1% and 5% of the loan in order to have a financial incentive to do the right thing. Plus, 1% interest can be charged on top of the fee.

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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