Claremont will spend some of its $8.7 million in the federal coronavirus relief fund to pay for essential worker pay, traffic calming measures and homeless services.
City leaders on Tuesday, May 10, approved a number of projects and programs that directly target the community. The city received almost half of its $8.7 million in July 2021 funding for the US rescue plan. The remaining half are expected to be delivered this July.
The city had delayed spending any funds until instructions from the US Treasury came in January, which provided some flexibility in how the money was used.
Signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021, the US rescue plan authorized $1.9 trillion in federal relief to accelerate the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and $130 to local governments to support public health spending. Billions, resolved economic losses to workers. , homes and small businesses, and replace lost revenue from the economic downturn.
After seeking feedback from 385 residents and 27 local businesses, Claremont identified the community’s top priorities – public infrastructure, rent and housing assistance, and public safety services.
On Tuesday, some members of the city council were skeptical about parts of the ARP package.
To reward city workers who worked during the pandemic, the city proposed spending $413,000 on one-time stipends, up to $4,000 for full-time public safety workers and up to $3,000 for other full-time employees, some of whom have retired. Huh. Pay up to $1,000 will also be provided for part-time employees.
Council member Corey Kaleke said he was “not comfortable” with raising public employee pay and felt that the ARP funds were “to ease the suffering of the community.” He filed a case of single vote against the motion.
The council hit another snag with the Commuter Cycle Rebate Program, which is meant to provide $100,000 to help Claremont Village employees buy electric bicycles they can ride to work instead of driving a car.
Mayor Jed Leno proposed the program after concerns were raised about parking in the village at the last meeting.
Council member Jennifer Stark said the program was well-intentioned, but it wouldn’t do much to address parking issues entirely.
“I think there are more effective ways to deal with parking issues in the village than offering discounts on bicycles for workers who bike to work,” Stark said. “My feeling is that there may be a lack of equity in this bike program.”
Leno said he was willing to make concessions on the program’s parameters, but didn’t want to scrap the idea all at once.
“I don’t think it solves anything unilaterally, it doesn’t solve parking, it doesn’t solve CO2 emissions or congestion,” Leno said. “But it helps them all.”
In the end, the council unanimously approved the program, but eligibility guidelines and income standards have yet to be hammered out. The details will be returned to the Council at a later date.
Meanwhile, the council approved $500,000 to implement traffic calming measures and update the city’s traffic sign list. Of these funds, $250,000 will be used to complete traffic-quieting improvements recommended by ongoing city studies, according to a staff report.
The funding will also provide for the replacement of old, discolored street signage across the city. First, some residents called on city leaders to focus on road safety, traffic calming measures and more police presence at busy intersections.
Other programs funded by ARP include:
- $146,650 for the city’s homeless services programs, which was cut in the 2020-21 budget. Some of that money will go to community-based organizations, which have previously included Claremont Meals on Wheels and Claremont Heritage.
- $50,000 to develop five standard designs for ancillary housing units that property owners can choose to add to their properties. The city has budgeted $200,000 for the next two years to provide a $20,000 grant to the property owners that make up the ADU.
- $175,000 for the next two years to support the city’s Psychiatric Assessment Care Team, which supports mental health responders in nonviolent cases.
- $500,000 and $495,000 for the police department, respectively, to dispatch radio console upgrades and replace city-owned emergency radios.
- $400,000 for a grant program that will assist local businesses with rent, utilities, supplies, payroll and employee hiring and retention.
- $200,000 for the business-tax relief program. About 1,500 licensed businesses with a location in Claremont are eligible for the program.
In total, the council has paid out $4.5 million to the federal relief fund, and more than $4 million is to be spent. The council is expected to review staff recommendations for the remaining federal dollars at a later date.