City council discusses allocation of US bailout funding – Corridor News

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Sierra Martin | Chief Editor

On Tuesday, April 20, 2022, at 3:00 p.m., the San Marcos City Council met for a business session and received a presentation regarding the distribution of the second round of U.S. Bailout (ARP) funding.

The presentation included 19 staff-recommended funding requests to move forward with ARP funding following board member approval. Community programs and requests for additional funding identified by staff will be reviewed after receiving feedback from a community survey.

In the first round of ARP funding, $9.05 million was allocated, with $6.73 million remaining. $2.77 million was spent on public health response, negative economic impacts, community services and disproportionately impacted infrastructure.

According to San Marcos Acting City Manager Stephanie Reyes’ presentation, departments submitted 64 funding requests totaling more than $26 million.

“It’s about our ability — as a team, as a staff — to be able to respond to pandemics like the ones we have with COVID and any other emergencies in the future,” Reyes said. . “Having the right infrastructure in place is really important to us. It is important for us to have learned what were the things that could have strengthened our position in the future.

The 19 funding requests recommended by staff total $4,430,000 and include: $415,000 for Network Specialist, $425,000 for Mental Health Clinician Collaboration, and $400,000 for Five Mile Dam Soccer Lighting Complex.

“You know, we just wanted to give the board the flexibility to know that there are ideas here, and your staff worked hard to try to identify some of those ideas, but we didn’t want to overstep the bounds that you gave us. data,” Reyes said. “And that was to stay within the $4.5 million for things that we will consider spending outside of a community inquiry process.”

Council member Maxfield Baker said he was not very supportive of the idea of ​​spending $400,000 of ARP funding on lighting at the Five Mile Dam football complex because he thinks there is greater needs in the community.

“Like, okay, they have more time to wait or less access to football pitches,” Baker said. “Unlike people living on the streets who have no food or shelter, I think we have to keep these stark contrasts in mind.”

Council member Mark Gleason said he favors waiting after the community inquiry to allocate some of the ARP funding.

“I think the community should get some info on what exactly we want to do with some of this, but I’m going to ask…there are a couple of things here that I don’t think are really significant amounts that, I think will make an immediate impact,” Gleason said.

Gleason requested that $5,400 to provide Chromebooks for library programs and $10,000 to fund two years of homeless camp cleanups be transferred to staff-recommended programs.

Council member Alyssa Garza said she agreed with Gleason to prioritize cleaning up the homeless camp. Speaking to community members, Garza said she had received positive feedback about funding an equity program coordinator for four years at $400,000 and would be interested in providing him with a funding regardless of the outcome of the investigation.

“I just don’t see how we can take equity seriously unless we prioritize the equity program coordinator,” Garza said. “Even with just, like, this preliminary presentation, when I was talking to my neighbors at Sunset Acres and Victory Gardens recently, equity issues came up in just about every conversation.”

Mayor Jane Hughson has suggested moving Mission Able’s $800,000 in-home rehabilitation program to the list of those who may receive funding ahead of the community survey result.

“I think it’s extremely important. And here’s what worries me is people trying to stay in their home, which is their affordable home, is that homes are getting worse day by day…” Hughson said.

Council member Saul Gonzales said he would like to advance the tree removal program for private homeowners, which would receive $135,000 in ARP funding.

Hughson also said she would like to increase funding for the community programs of Mobile Message Boards ($96,000), Permanent LED Message Boards ($75,000) and Neighborhood Signage ($600).

Council member Shane Scott suggested providing $850,000 in ARP funding for playground improvements at the city park and said it was important to consider children staying home during the pandemic.

Board members voted to move the following community programs to the list to receive ARP funding before receiving community feedback: Provision of Chromebooks to Library, Cleanup of Homeless Camps, Rehabilitation of Homes by Mission Able , tree removal program and the three signage programs.

Providing lights at the Five Mile Dam football complex, downtown events and checking website accessibility and upgrading compliance were all kept on the list, but moved to be considered for receive funding after the community survey. The provision of an equity program coordinator and improvements to the municipal park playground were kept on the list of items to consider for funding after receiving feedback from the community.

The next step in moving forward with ARP funding recommendations is to determine the applicant’s eligibility and ability to administer the funds. In addition, a final list of funding requests will come back to the board for consideration during the budget process, and a plan will be determined on how the remaining funds will be allocated.

“We’ll bring things back to your June budget workshops for final decision,” Reyes said. “And then after that, we will continue and we will have the conversation about the community inquiry. And then once we get that back, we’ll bring the additional requests that you’ve brought forward here, and then any other themes that come up as a result of that investigation.

During the executive session, council members received a briefing on the possible acquisition of downtown property for a future fire station. In addition, the board received legal advice from the city attorney regarding the enforcement of the provisions of the ground leases and facility leases at the San Marcos Regional Airport.

A copy of the full agenda package which included the presentation can be found here. A full video of the working session is available here. More information about the San Marcos City Council can be found on their website.

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