Antioch non-profit leaders not happy new city department will displace 16 Rivertown Resource Center organizations

The Rivertown Resource Center which houses 16 non-profit organizations on the corner of W. 10th and D Street is the former location of the Antioch Police Department. Photos: Allen D. Payton

Primary leader, Betty Smith recently honored as Antioch Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement; pay property taxes but don’t have to according to County Assessor

By Allen D. Payton

During the Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, three long-time community leaders and volunteers spoke out against the city council and staff locating the new Public Safety and Community Services Department at the Rivertown Resource Center on W. 10th Street (See related article)

One of those leaders is Betty Smith who was recently honored by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce as the 2021 Antioch Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement. (See related article)

An incomplete tenants list on the wall near the front entrance.

The organizations located at the Rivertown Resource Center that will be displaced are Delta 2000, Community Violence Solutions, Antioch Rivertown Jamboree, Center for Human Development, An Elderly Wish Foundation, East County Senior Coalition, Pop Up-Patty, Rivertown Community Radio, Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity (ECHO) Housing, Todos Unidos, Family Purpose/Casual Recovery, Mission Possible Community Development Center of Antioch (MPCDCA), Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch, Empowerment Program:  Supporting LGBTQ Youth, Prison-From-The Inside-Out, and Village Keepers African American Wellness Center.

“The Delta 2000 Rivertown Resource Center’s mission is to facilitate coordination of services between public, private and community groups to create a healthy and safe community for Contra Costa County,” said Betty Smith reading from prepared remarks, while visibly emotional. “Delta 2000 continues to be the leading resource agency in East County dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and impact of the nonprofit sector by providing technical assistance and support, coordination resource development programs, conduction needs assessments and assisting community-based organizations serving the East County Region.  Delta 2000 offers support services which allow groups to focus on the work of providing vital services.”

“For over 33 years Delta 2000 has assisted more than 86 grassroots organizations to incorporate…and pursue a 501c3 tax exempt status from the IRS,” she stated.

Former Antioch mayor and current Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha spoke next, saying, “I was at the meeting where the city manager plus five department heads were present to let us know that it was possible that they would take over the Rivertown Resource Center to locate five future programs they want to develop.”

“My question is why displace 16 non-profits that support the community when the City has a large empty building at the Nick Rodriguez Center?” she asked. “The Senior Center is located in a small portion of that large building and the building is operated by the city. You could consider using parts of that building for your employees’ needs.  The programs the City would like to create would be beneficial to seniors at this location and surrounding community.”

“I think you need to reconsider,” Rocha added.

“I’m on the board and use the services at the Rivertown Resource Center,” said Bill Chapman. “We’ve had 10 unidentified staff tour the building and not one of them displayed a business card.”

“They taped a message on our front door and said they were going to inspect our exits,” he continued. “They came and took pictures of every room and every item in each room. I request we get a copy of (Interim City Manager) Cornelius Johnson’s report so we can put in our two cents.”

“You can’t produce one document,” Chapman stated. “We had to produce a copy of all our leases and within 24 hours. We did that.”

“What do we get to say on our side?” he asked. “The building is safe. We need a place where our volunteers can go after 5:00 p.m. because many of them work other jobs.”

Questions for City Staff, Council Members

In an email Wednesday morning, April 13 Interim City Manager Con Johnson, all five council members and Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore were asked the following questions:

“Is what the three representatives of Delta 2000 and the Rivertown Resource Center, Mary Rocha, Betty Smith and Bill Chapman, said at last night’s council meeting correct, that the city is planning to use that building for the new Department of Public Safety and Community Resources and displace 16 non-profit organizations?

If so, what is the timeframe and how much notification are you going to give the organizations?

When do you plan to launch the two new services – mental health crisis response and violence intervention and prevention? When are you planning on moving them and the other five services into the Rivertown Resource Center?

When are you planning on hiring the director for the new department? Do you already have someone in mind for the position?

Has the city considered as Mary Rocha suggested, using the Nick Rodriguez Community Center instead?”

They were then asked if what Chapman said about how city staff treated them is true. “If so, is that the way long-time community leaders and volunteers should be treated?”

Councilwoman Torres-Walker was specifically asked, “As a non-profit organization leader, is this how you and your organization would want to be treated? Were you aware that the new department would use the Rivertown Resource Center and displace 16 non-profits? Was that part of your plan when you proposed the new department? If not, what will you do to help those organizations and address their concerns?”

They were all also asked, “Since staff for four of the five responsibilities of the new department – which excludes one which can’t be relocated, Animal Services – are currently located at either City Hall or the Antioch Community Center, isn’t there space at either of those buildings for the new department head and coordinators of the two new divisions?

Is the new department really necessary since five of the responsibilities are currently handled by other, existing city departments? Why not just put the two new divisions at the PD and leave the others where they are and hire a coordinator at a much lower cost?”

Ogorchock Only One to Respond

“I will tell you it is,” in response to question if it’s true what the leaders. “If you listen to the meeting before last the mayor said something about this building being used as the new center.  I then said there has been no further discussion regarding the use of this building for this purpose, it has not been brought back to council for consideration, he flat out said this is the spot!  I guess he knows he has the votes for this to happen.”

Regarding the timeframe and notification to the organizations, she replied, “I have no clue as again as this item has not come back before council to discuss.

Regarding launching the two new services Ogorchock wrote, “We do not have a vendor for the mental health crisis response as of yet and the other has not been discussed.”

As for when the director for the new department, she responded, “I am not sure on this one either.  I believe that the ad-hoc committee is to bring back to council the vision, values and scope to council for discussion, but who knows?”
In response to the question if the city has considered using the Nick Rodriguez Community Center instead, the District 3 councilwoman responded, “Nope, and they (3) are not looking at any other spot.

Bill Chapman said, ‘We’ve had 10 unidentified staff tour the building and not one of them displayed a business card. They taped a message on our front door and said they were going to inspect our exits. They came and took pictures of every room and every item in each room. We had to produce a copy of all our leases and within 24 hours.’  He is correct, they have had several individuals going through the building.  None of which have given a business card to be in the building other than to say we are here to look at the premises.  What Mr. Bill is talking about is there was a meeting a week ago where 6 staff, Con, Thomas, Rosanna, John, Forrest and Tasha were all present. Why so many, you got me.  Mr. Bill asked Con for a card, he said he was just at an event and he handed out all of his cards!  Then he asked Thomas who just flat out said I don’t have any on me, then Rosanna stepped up to the plate and handed out her cards.”

“It is sad that they are booting out the very organizations that this new department is supposed to help.  Is that not an oxymoron?” Ogorchock continued.

Regarding space at either City Hall or the Antioch Community Center for the new department head and coordinators of the two new divisions, the councilwoman replied, “There is, but the 3 want a new dept.”

To the final questions about the necessity for the new department, placing the two new divisions at the PD and hiring a coordinator at a much lower cost Ogorchock wrote, “I’ve been asking this question all along.  I have no clue other than this is what Tamisha wants and since they all vote for each other’s items, is that to be considered a quid-pro-quo? This is a misuse of taxpayers’ dollars if you ask me.”

No other responses were received as of Monday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m.

Delta 2000 property tax bill 2021-22. Source: Betty Smith

Delta 2000 Paying Property Taxes But Doesn’t Have To

Delta 2000 pays an annual Unsecured Property Tax bill for use of the building of $1,061.92 based on an assessment of $95,579.

Questions were sent Friday, April 15 to County Assessor Gus Kramer and County Tax Collector Russell Watts asking, why they are being charged property taxes and do all government owned buildings pay property taxes.

Watts forwarded the email to County Auditor-Controller Bob Campbell,

“This is a Possessory Interest Bill,” Campbell replied. “The City owns the property but a portion of the property, as determined by the Assessor, isn’t used for a qualifying not taxable or tax-exempt status.”

However, Kramer responded, “All the non-profits have to do is apply for an exemption as a non-profit with the assessor’s office and they will not get a bill.”

He later added that the non-profits have to file their exemption paperwork with the federal government, as well.

 

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the attachments to this post:


Rivertown Resource Center tenants list


Rivertown Resource Center front


Delta 2000 property tax bill 2021-22


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