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The exclusive club on Florida’s uber-wealthy Fisher Island has applied for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and is asking residents whether it should accept the money if approved for the loan, FOX Business has learned.
Days after it was revealed that residents voted to reject a $2 million loan allocated to one of the island's homeowner's associations, Fisher Island Club, which reportedly charges $250,000 for membership, is asking its members for help in making its decision.
The club emailed members Monday and it warned that if they voted against taking the money, each equity member would likely need to pay roughly $5,000 to keep its employees on the payroll.
“The Club Board and management, along with the unanimous recommendation of the Finance Committee and in accordance with its fiduciary responsibility for the financial stability of the Club, made the business decision to apply for the PPP Loan," the email, which was provided to FOX Business by a Fisher Island resident who asked to remain anonymous, states. "If accepted, loan proceeds will be used to fund the payroll and benefit costs for its employees whose livelihoods depend on this income.”
A spokesperson for Fisher Island Club management did not comment.
Some Fisher Island Club members, such as prominent attorney Thomas Lauria, did not take the ultimatum lightly.
"The decision of the Club Board to secretly pursue US Government PPP financing without any advance disclosure to or input from its members is NOT HELPFUL. NOR IS IT HELPFUL for the Club Board to ask its members to vote on the propriety of taking a government hand-out on one day's notice,Lauria wrote in an email he sent to Club directors, which was obtained by FOX Business. "WITHOUT providing members with ANY financial information that would permit them to exercise their voting opportunity on a reasonably informed basis."
Fisher Island has the wealthiest zip code in the country, and it recently made headlines for providing each resident with antibody testing "to further minimize spread on the densely populated island with half of the residents over the age of 60 and at high risk," a spokesperson told FOX Business at the time.
The club, which boasts a staff of 400, “is projected to lose many, many millions in revenue in 2020” as a result of local government mandates calling for most of its amenities to remain closed during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, the Fisher Island Community Association revealed to members that it had been approved for a $2 million PPP loan, but residents voted against keeping the money. Fisher Island Club, however, is operating under different conditions, according to the email.
“It is important to note that the Club’s business model and FICA’s business model are very different,” the email states.” The Club receives less than half of its revenues from dues; while FICA’s income is primarily fixed from its quarterly dues and/or assessments and income from services provided to the various condominium associations on Fisher Island.”
While the email was not clear as to whether Fisher Island Club had been approved for its loan and did not specify any loan amount, it asked that members submit a straw vote by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Members were instructed to choose between two options: "Accept PPP loan proceeds" or “assess each Club Equity Member approximately $5,000 this year.”
This article was updated from its earlier version to include statements from club member Thomas Lauria's email regarding the Fisher Island Club's decision to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan.