City of Watertown sending stimulus checks to residents

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The financial burden of this pandemic is very real for many people, and that's why one community just west of the Twin Cities passed its own stimulus package for residents.

The city of Watertown is sending out checks for $60 to each resident in the next few days. It's money that can only be used in town.

For businesses in downtown Watertown, they're just trying to get by during this pandemic.

"It's been pretty devastating," said Bonnie Salazar, owner of R&B Cafe.

Like many, they're trying to find creative ways to attract customers like doing takeout-only.

"This should be an $800 day for us, we did $55, that's the comparison for what's happening the last three months," Salazar said. 

The money is called Chamber Bucks and each Watertown homeowner and renter is getting three $20 checks. They're good for one year and can only be used at local businesses.

"I think it's going to work well and, in my mind, it's the least we can do," said Watertown Mayor Steve Washburn.

Washburn has seen a lot in six years as mayor.

"A flood, a tornado, all kind of tragic situations but nothing has been like this," Washburn said.

Washburn said, so far, they've sent out about $98,000 in checks, and it's coming straight from the city's budget. On top of that, they waived all water and sewer bills for three months.

"That's a big investment for a small city but we'll do it. We'll do whatever it takes to support our businesses, to support our local residents," Washburn said.

It's a sign of hope for places like R&B Cafe.

"If everyone in the community has that extra $60 that they didn't have before they maybe will choose to go out to eat," Salazar said.

Whenever life gets back to normal, they'll be ready in Watertown, but Salazar is grateful for this added boost to hopefully keep their doors open for decades to come.

"It's a blessing and I don't know how we got so lucky to choose this community to open our business," Salazar said.

Mayor Washburn said they've already had discussions about potentially sending out another check to residents, but that really depends on how long it takes for things to get back to normal.