Council Distributes Federal Funds to City Programs and Non-Profit Groups

By James T. Ott

When it came time to approve the spending of Community Development Block Grants, (CDBG), at Tuesday’s City Council Meeting, council members found themselves having to do more with less.

Despite over $2 million in applications from non-profits and programs, in the end the council only had about $763,000 to work with and in the end approved $531,897 in block grants to go toward city code enforcement, housing rehabilitation, downtown curb cuts, job placement and training and small business training.

The council faced losses that could have been utilized for these programs, such as $143,000 in funding the city lost this year when the state eliminated redevelopment agencies. In fact, according to a staff report, the city lost 11 similar grants when the Antioch Development Agency was cut by the state.

CDBG consultant Teri House said that the loss of such redevelopment funds created a “huge impact on [city] programs.”

As a result of decreases in funding and increases in applications, the city said it had a, “very painful decision-making process,” and had to deny many programs this year that it has supported for years such as the Child Abuse Prevention Council, the Contra Costa Food Bank, and the Community Housing Development Corporation.

CDBG consultant Teri House said that the loss of such redevelopment funds created a “huge impact on [city] programs.”

The city allocated $131,897 toward code enforcement to hire its first code enforcement officer since 2009 when budget cuts eliminated the position. The main focus of the officer will be the abandoned/foreclosed homes in Antioch. The city has had an epidemic of squatters of late stemming from the housing crash. This Code Enforcement Officer will help Deputy Director of Community Development Ryan Graham who currently only has the ability to help with the very worst cases in Antioch.

$200,000 will go toward single and multi-family rehabilitation services such as loans to assist in fixing dilapidated buildings, tenant-landlord counseling and infrastructure improvements all in an effort to clean up lower-income areas of Antioch.

$135,000 was set aside for curb cuts to provide easier access for the handicapped.

$50,000 will go toward job training at and placement for struggling residents via Opportunity Junction who are having trouble finding work and $15,000 will be allocated to the Antioch Chamber to fund small business training for Antioch residents who own, or are looking to own a business.

Also at the meeting:

The city council decided Tuesday to table the decision on proposed changes to components of it’s Master Fee Schedule until next city council meeting due to council indecision as to whether or not the changes were currently necessary.

Most of the proposed changes in the schedule were to fees associated with the Police Department and Animal Services, Community Development and Public Works, and a majority of them were slight increases.

The changes are to go mainly toward capital improvement projects and also for a repair and replacement fund for the city’s water and sewer districts, said Antioch Finance Director Dawn Merchant.

The proposed adjustments were made according to a 2010 report by consultants Black and Veatch – a report that Merchant said city staff still felt was valid.

According to a city staff report, Police fees in general are set to go up about 5 percent and city water and sewer rates will increase 8 percent and 4 percent, respectively – changes that were already approved in resolutions back in 2010.

Merchant said that the proposed increases were in accordance with the standard increases according to the Consumer Price Index, which is where the main sticking point for the council seemed to come from.

Councilmember Agopian protested raising fees just because the Consumer Price Index said it could or should be done. Agopian said that it makes it more expensive to live and do business in Antioch and so he is apposed to raising such fees seemingly arbitrarily.

City Manager Jim Jakel said that most of the increases are negligible and most amount to $2 to $6 increases. Jakel and Merchant both said that the fees were made to recoup increased city costs due to things such as rate increases, and may indeed be necessary.

Council Member Brian Kalinowski pointed out that some fees in the proposal don’t increase at all, such as some animal fees that used to require a ten day minimum and now can be paid day by day, potentially saving Antioch residents hundreds.

In the end Kalinowski and the other council members agreed that they would postpone the decision until they could hear more from residents and get more details from staff on the changes.

If the changes are approved they are currently set to go into effect July 1, 2012.

Any changes to the master fee schedule are also set to be brought before city council for review in two years.

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply