Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Measure X Sales Tax – meeting the needs of our community?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Zoom webinar Feb. 17 at 4:00 p.m. to learn about first year allocations

By Gail Murray

Measure X, a new county-wide sales tax to support health and human services for our local neighbors and families, was passed by voters in November 2020. The tax money is being collected and decisions are being made on how to allocate the money in support of the values we hold as residents of Contra Costa.

The Measure X Advisory Committee was established by the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors to help prioritize spending of Measure X dollars to support health and human services in our county. The Committee has met over many weeks, days and hours, and has produced its report. The people of Contra Costa County have unmet human service needs, and they are growing fast, as documented by the Measure X Advisory Committee. The Board has weighed these growing needs with the limited dollars available to allocate this first year.

Join us Thursday, February 17 at 4:00 p.m. for a Zoom webinar to hear about the first year of allocations. What was recommended by the Advisory Committee, what was funded, and what are the gaps still remaining? Do these allocations support our values? What can we learn from this first year of sales tax allocations?  What does this mean for the future?

This expert panel will be moderated by Shanelle Scales-Preston, Vice Mayor and Pittsburg City Council member. Panelists are Mariana Moore, Chair of the Measure X Citizens Advisory Board; Dan Geiger from Budget Justice Coalition; and Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, Chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, representing District 4. 

Questions from the public will be taken in advance at Program@LWVDV.org. During the webinar, questions may be submitted thru Zoom Q&A function. 

Click here to register for the webinar. Information on how to access the Zoom webinar will be sent to your email address 24 hours before the program.

The program is a partnership among the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley and of West Contra Costa County, along with the Contra Costa County Library. The Library will provide closed captioning for this event. 

The program will be recorded and posted on the following sites after the meeting:

LWVDV YouTube channel

Contra Costa County Library YouTube channel

 

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Contra Costa Supervisors to consider COVID-related budget issues, Measure X fund allocations during Tuesday retreat

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Source: CCC

Administrator to recommend delaying allocation of $59 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds; projects 6% increase in property tax revenues

To hear presentation on “The Post COVID New World Order”

By Daniel Borsuk

Citing bureaucratic red tape, Contra Costa County Administrator Monica Nino will propose the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors postpone spending $59 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds until at least January 2023 in her presentation during their retreat focused on COVID-19 era budget issues, Tuesday.

The retreat will be televised live starting at 9 a.m. on Comcast Cable 27 and WAVE Channel 32 and online.

“The challenge in lining up funds to maximize cost recovery requires constant monitoring (coordination) between departments,” County Administrator Nino stated in documents recommending the partial funding postponement.

At the same time, Nino will also recommend $53 million in American Rescue Plan funds be allocated to the Contra Costa Health Services Department to improve response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the upcoming 2022/2023 fiscal year.

Supervisors are also expected to learn that for the upcoming fiscal year, $107 million of Measure X sales tax revenues will be allocated for the budget and 15 percent of the county’s labor contracts, including the California Nurses Association contract, which will be up for renewal on June 30. The 2022/2023 fiscal year budget will mark the first time Measure X funds will be spent.

County Administrator Nino is also expected to announce property taxes are to increase six percent for fiscal year 2022/2023, 3.44 per cent for the county and 3.82 percent for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

“County property taxes declined over 11 percent between 2009 and 2012 and then grew significantly between 2014 and 2019. Projecting an increase of 6 percent for fiscal year 2022/23,” Nino’s report states.

“The budget will be built on assumption of a 6 percent increase in assessed valuation. Fiscal year 2022/23 is projected to be significantly higher than normal,’ she wrote in the background document.

At the retreat, Dan Geiger will offer a presentation by the Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition, consisting of 34 non-profit organizations focused on county fiscal accountability issues, that will showcase how the organization will monitor the supervisors’ budgetary process especially when in the 2022/2023 fiscal year $110 million of Measure X sales funds will be added to the general fund for the first time.

During their budget discussion, Supervisors will also receive departmental presentations from the Sheriff-Coroner, District Attorney, Public Defender, Health Services Director, Employment and Human Services Director and Animal Services Director.

Contra Costa County voters passed the Measure X countywide, half-cent sales tax increase on the November 2020 ballot.

The supervisors will also receive a report on Capital Projects, the Facilities Condition Assessment and the Facilities Master Plan.

The Post COVID New World Order presentation

Supervisors will also hear a report entitled, “The Post COVID New World Order – It’s a seller’s market for now,” delivered by Dr. Christopher Thornberg of independent economic research and consulting firm Beacon Economics. Thornberg predicts unemployment in the county should be 3.4 percent by the end of 2022, which is currently pegged at 4.6 percent.

“Labor tightness sets off an investment boom,” he will predict, but the economist will also warn, “Expect a sugar crash to come, combination of a tight federal budget and inflation.”

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.                                            

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Antioch Council’s homeless subcommittee proposes spending $300K for emergency housing

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was joined near the Antioch Amtrak Station by members of Louie Rocha’s family and city staff for the press conference Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, 2021. Photo by Allen Payton

Plan named for Louie Rocha, a homeless resident recently killed by a train; to pay for 15 rooms at former Motel 6 in Pittsburg; requires council approval; Glover says year-long program already serving about 40 Antioch unhoused residents and there’s currently a wait list

Michael Rocha, brother of Louie Rocha speaks during the press conference on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of Mike Burkholder.

By Allen Payton

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica, as members of the city council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Unhoused Residents, have proposed the council approve spending $300,000 more to help homeless residents with emergency housing. Thorpe said the name would be the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan, in memory of the homeless resident who died, recently after being struck by a train in downtown while walking to the public restrooms at the Antioch Marina parking lot.

That amount is in addition to the $519,000 approved by the city council in December 2019 to be spent to help the homeless. Those funds were used to hire a consultant, motel vouchers, and portable toilets that were vandalized and removed. A full accounting of the use of those funds has been requested of city staff and one council member by the Herald multiple times but it has yet to be provided. (See related article)

During a press conference, Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, 2021, near the Antioch Amtrak Station, Thorpe, was joined by members of Rocha’s family, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, and the City’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator, Jazmin Ridley, to make the announcement. Barbanica was unable to attend due to a medical procedure, the mayor shared. Rocha was not related to the principal of Antioch High School with the same name nor his mother, Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha.  (See press conference video)

Antioch’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator Jazmin Ridley speaks during the press conference on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of Mike Burkholder.

The proposal requires at least three votes of council members to approve the budget expenditure. If approved, the funds will be used to pay for 15 rooms at the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg, owned by the County and purchased for $17.4 million, last year. (See related articles here and here)

The former motel is currently undergoing renovations and appears unoccupied. When asked about the matter, Supervisor Diane Burgis was not aware the former motel was closed.

12/3/21 UPDATE: Funds May Not Get 15 More Antioch Homeless Residents Off the Street

When reached for comment Supervisor Federal Glover confirmed the former motel was closed for renovations saying, “But we moved the residents to another location. We didn’t put them back on the street. We will have a grand opening next Monday.” He didn’t know when residents would move in but added, “That will be shared during the event.”

Asked if Thorpe had spoken to him about the $300,000 for 15 unhoused Antioch residents, Glover said, “no, but I believe he’s been speaking with Lavonna Martin,” who, until recently, was the Director of Health, Housing, & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County Health Services. He also shared “we’re already serving Antioch residents” and estimated that figure to be about 40 people. “We welcome partners who want to contribute financially to support the program. We had enough money from the state to purchase the motel, and the County has budgeted some funds for the ongoing costs. But we’ll be applying for grants and looking for others to contribute.” Glover also said there’s a wait list for rooms at the former Motel 6 and shared they “expect residents to be there for about a year. But hopefully some can move on, sooner. It depends on each individual.”

The $300,000 proposed by the Antioch council’s subcommittee would be used to pay for current program costs and may not result in helping 15 more unhoused residents from living on the streets.

Questions for Thorpe, Barbanica

Questions were then sent via email to subcommittee members Thorpe and Barbanica, asking if they were aware of how the $300,000 funds would be spent by the county and if the funds could instead be spent to ensure 15 additional unhoused Antioch residents would be helped off the street by using voucher at the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street or other motels in the city. They were also asked how soon the Antioch program would begin now that the Planning Commission has voted to recommend approval of the Transitional Housing Overlay District for the Executive Inn. Please check back later for any responses.

———– End of 12/3/21 update.

Thorpe’s Prepared Remarks

“A few days ago, a lifelong Antioch resident living on our streets was tragically killed by a train trying to get to a public restroom at the City’s Veteran Memorial and Marina.

Last Monday, I attended a candlelight vigil outside of City Hall in his honor and had the opportunity to speak with members of his family to offer my condolences. On Tuesday, I opened our first in-person city council meeting in his memory with a moment of silence.

His death along with many other similar deaths throughout our Country symbolizes everything that is contrary to our American values. Individualism doesn’t free ‘me’ or any of ‘you’ from the greater ‘we’ which is needed for community cohesion.

In January of 1981, three months before I was born, President Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed in his first inaugural address to the nation, ‘Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.’

President Reagan couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I was born in prison, the state government said, we’ll provide stability for this child by placing him in foster care with the appropriate support system until he’s 18. Thank God the government stepped in to help me when I had no one else to turn to. While things weren’t easy growing up poor by any stretch of the imagination, it was the stability the government created that allowed me to join and succeed in the Navy.

Later, it was the government that created the stability for me to complete college using federal grants and loans, and it was the government that provided me and my family the opportunity to purchase our first home right here in the City of Antioch.

Since President Reagan, and every U.S. president since him, including members of my own political party, have overseen major cuts and reforms in social safety net programs, which has helped push and keep many more people into poverty, housing insecurity, and homelessness.

In Antioch, we have not shied away from the issue of homelessness. Over the last two years, the City has worked on leasing the old Executive Inn on East 18th Street to provide housing with the appropriate wrap-around programs to provide temporary stability for those living on our streets to get back on their feet.

It’s been about a year and a half since we started that process. Tomorrow, the Antioch Planning Commission will be meeting to discuss this very important issue. If all goes well, the item then moves to the City Council after 30 days.

So today, I’m announcing a joint proposal by Councilmember Mike Barbanica and I called the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan, which authorizes an additional $300,000.00 towards homeless services specially to secure 15 rooms from Contra Costa County at the Motel 6 in Pittsburg for individuals living along active railroad tracks in and around downtown Antioch.

In addition, today, our Police, Code Enforcement, and Abatement Departments will be meeting to produce a plan that proactively concentrates on these areas to ensure we’re moving folks from here and into housing.

This program will not work without the participation of everyone, meaning we can no longer accept that this dangerous area is acceptable for people to live in. I’m calling on all homeless advocates, ministries, and others to find new locations to do the lord’s work. It’s much, much too dangerous here.”

Ridley and Bayon Moore offered additional details about the program and Michael Rocha, Louie’s brother, thanked the mayor “for the help we’re trying to get.”

“The homeless are really difficult to work with and work around, and I’ve been dealing with it for 30 years,” Rocha stated. He then thanked Thorpe “for getting the word out.”

 

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Antioch Council spends $2.3 million in extra tax revenues but nothing for homeless or more cops

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

The Antioch City Council uses their new display board showing how they voted during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Video screenshot.

Approve $1,500,000 for renovation of City Hall second floor

Thorpe, Torres-Walker want to renovate Hard House for council member offices, plus staff for each council member

By Allen Payton

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Nov. 23, 2021, Antioch Finance Director Dawn Merchant said the city council will have an additional $2.3 million to spend in this year’s budget, with over $2.5 million additional from sales tax, including over $1.5 million more from Measure W’s 1% sales tax revenues. The council members chose to allocate the funds but included nothing to pay for more police officer or to help the homeless.

According to the City staff report on the item, “The major contributing factors to net revenues higher than projected are:

  • $1,542,781 higher Measure W/1% sales tax than projected.
  • $1,006,854 higher sales tax than projected.
  • $435,820 more in building permit revenue than anticipated.
  • $231,737 more in property tax revenue than anticipated.
  • $160,000 more in interest and rental revenue than anticipated.
  • Approximately $532,000 additional revenues than anticipated from various miscellaneous sources.

There was also a $1,571,461 reduction in revenues for the amount billed to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for our usable river water days as the money was not received until October 2021 requiring us to record this revenue in FY22 instead.”

Plus, there were $6,425,217 less in expenditures than projected for Fiscal Year 2021. The major contributing factors to net expenditures lower than projected are:

$383,762 less in operating subsidy than projected to the Animal Shelter.

$557,686 less in operating subsidy than projected to Recreation programs.

$2,007,481 in salary savings from all unfilled positions. $1,051,661 represents non- Police salary savings which the City Council will need to allocate to one-time projects and/or unfunded liabilities per the City’s one-time revenue policy. The appropriation has been included in the budget amendments in Exhibit C to Attachment A.

$271,532 in purchase orders as of June 30,2021 not yet entirely spent. The carry forward of the budgets for these is included in the budget amendments in Exhibit A to Attachment A.

$1,941,089 in project budgets outstanding as of June 30, 2021, not yet entirely spent. The carryforward of the budgets for these is included in the budget amendments in Exhibit B to Attachment A.

$1,054,466 in non-salary savings in the Police Department budget.

$328,786 in non-salary savings in Public Works.

$2.85 and $3.1 Million More in FY22 and FY23

As a result, city staff is projecting increases to Fiscal Year 2022 General Fund sales tax and 1% sales tax projections by $2,849,683 and FY23 by $3,121,657 based on FY21 closing numbers and current sales tax projection trends.

Council Allocates Funds But, None for More Police Officers or Homeless

Staff also proposed how to spend the additional funds, including paying for projects the City has already begun and moving up items from the FY22 budget.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe suggested holding off on approving costs related to establishing the new Community Resources Department.

Then without any comments from the public, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock made, and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica seconded a motion to approve the remaining items. But both Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Thorpe said they would rather discuss them on a item by item basis. The motion failed 2-3 with District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker joining Thorpe and Wilson in voting no.

The council members then reviewed the other proposed budget items, with Thorpe seeking consensus

  • Consideration of vehicles and equipment for the seven (7) new Code Enforcement Officers approved in the budget at a General Fund FY22 cost of $245,000 and $21,000 in FY23.
  • Consideration of an Administrative Assistant for Human Resources. The FY22 General Fund budget cost would be $30,769 (includes $5,000 for computer and other startup costs) and $110,479 in FY23.
  • Consideration of a Finance Analyst for Finance. Finance would request this not be budgeted until FY23 with a General Fund cost of $181,981, which includes $5,000 for computer and other startup costs.
  • Consideration of a Community Development Technician for Community Development at a FY22 General Fund budget cost of $42,513 (includes $2,000 startup costs) and $167,253 in FY23.
  • Consideration of a GIS Technician position for Public Works at a FY22 General Fund budget cost would be $32,039 and $137,554 in FY23.
  • Consideration of an Administrative Assistant position for Public Works at a FY22 cost of $24,290 and $104,068 in FY23.

Items Without Consensus or to Be Brought Back Later

  • Community Resources Department for an Administrative Analyst at a cost of $40,426 in FY22 and $166,894 in FY23; an Administrative Assistant at a cost of $24,290 in FY22 and $104,068 in FY23; building furnishings/remodel and repairs at an estimated cost of $1,000,000 to accommodate the staffing of the new department.
  • Consideration of Prewett Park Perimeter Fence Replacement at a FY23 General Fund budget cost of $200,000.
  • L Street Improvements project at a FY22 unknown funding source cost of $9,281,000.
  • The plan is to wait for possible funds from the recently approved federal infrastructure bill.
  • Wilson wanted a study session to discuss the various “corridors”.
  • Thorpe responded, “there will be a study session.”
  • Dedicated CORE Team at a General Fund cost of $250,000 in FY22 and FY23. – Both Ogorchock and Barbanica supported it, now.
  • Consideration of Police Department Community Room Technology Upgrades at a FY22 General Fund cost of $300,000. – Barbanica argued that the room serves as the Emergency Operations Center.

Approve New Budget Requests

According to the city staff offered a list of new budget requests all of which the council supported. They are:

  1. A Recreation Coordinator for Youth Services was approved in the adopted 2021-23 budget for funding approved in FY23. This is being requested to begin funding in FY22 to assist the Youth Network Services Manager getting programs and services running. This request would add $47,726 to the FY22 General Fund budget assuming funding for 5 months.
  1. Promotion of a Senior Computer Technician position to a Network Administrator. The FY22 and 23 budget impacts are $2,741 and $8,724 respectively funded from the Information Services Internal Service Fund.
  2. Addition of one (1) Administrative Analyst I position in the City Clerk’s office to meet the work demands of running the office. The FY22 General Fund budget impact, assuming the position is filled for 3 months is $40,426 and the annual FY23 impact would be $166,894.
  3. Reclassification of one (1) Administrative Assistant I position in the City Clerk’s office to an Administrative Analyst I position. The FY22 and FY23 General Fund budget impact would be $6,181 and $27,060 respectively.
  4. Addition of two (2) General Laborer positions to be funded with NPDES funds at a FY22 cost of $47,692 and $211,960 in FY23. If these positions are approved, the NPDES reserves will be depleted beginning in FY24 and the positions will need to be funded with the General Fund starting in FY24. Public works has been installing trash capture devices in the City’s storm drain system to comply with State requirements to keep trash and pollutants from entering our streams and waterways. These trash capture devices require monthly inspections and cleaning. Public Works does not have adequate staffing to perform this work on an ongoing and continuing basis so a request for bids was issued. Bids were received and the cost of contracting this service exceeded the cost of performing this work in house with these two (2) additional positions being requested.
  1. Add $150,000 to the Information Systems Fund FY22 budget to cover cybersecurity measures to be put in place to protect the City’s network.
  2. Addition of one (1) Payroll Specialist position at a FY22 General Fund cost of and $40,527 and $168,132 in FY23. Payroll processing is a critical function of the City and is processed bi-weekly for over 350 full time employees and up to a couple hundred more part time employees depending on the season. The City currently has one full time Payroll Specialist with some additional support from an Accounting Technician and the Deputy Finance Director to process payroll. Another position is severely needed to not only handle the volume, especially with all the additional positions added in this new budget cycle, but to be able to continue processing payroll when the one position is absent.
  1. Reclassification of two (2) Office Assistant positions in Recreation to Administrative Assistant II positions at an estimated cost of $10,030 in FY22 and $20,254 in FY23 to the General Fund.
  2. Reclassification of one (1) Administrative Assistant III position in Recreation to an Administrative Analyst I position at an estimated cost of $3,849 in FY22 and $13,730 to the General Fund.
  3. Remodel of 2nd floor and basement of City Hall at an estimated cost to the General Fund of $1,500,000 in FY22.

City to Receive $10.8 Million More in Federal COVID Relief Funds

The City of Antioch will be receiving a total of $21,550,900 in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). $10,775,450 was received in May 2021, with the remaining balance of $10,775,450 to be received in May 2022.

A discussion item was brought to City Council on July 27th whereby City Council Members discussed holding town hall meetings within each of their respective districts to speak with community members regarding the use of funds. As a reminder, the main priorities and principals of the funding are to provide relief to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease the spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control;
  • Replace public sector revenue to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs;
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and business; and
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic on certain populations.
  • Recipients may use these funds specifically to:
  • Support public health expenditures (as outlined in the interim final rule);
  • Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries and the public sector for those within a Qualified Census Tract or to other populations, households or geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic;
  • Replace lost public sector revenue to provide government services to the extent of lost revenue (for the first measurement period ending calendar year December 2020, the City of Antioch has no revenue loss and therefore government services cannot be funded in this category); and
  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure (as outlined in the interim final rule).

The Department of the Treasury has not yet issued final rules for spending of the funds which may provide further clarification and guidance from the interim final rule initially released. It is recommended that the City Council set a date for a future study session on allocation of the funds.

$1 Million in One-Time Funds, Mayor Wants to Use Them on Hard House for Council Member Offices

The Hard House on W. 1st Street in Antioch. Herald file photo from 2011.

Thorpe wanted the city to put money into the Hard House “as an extension of city hall…with offices for council members.” The brick building was the home of the City’s first mayor and is located on W. First Street next to the Lynn House Gallery and across from the Amtrak Station.

The Hard House was once proposed to be donated to a non-profit organization that planned to reinforce it to earthquake standards and completely restore the building. Other ideas were to turn it into a bistro or offices.

“It was pretty disappointing to show up here and see there was no space for city council members which is pretty telling of our role, here,” Torres-Walker said. She also asked to have staff for individual council members to come back for a future discussion.

“I agree with Councilwoman Torres-Walker regarding staffing support,” Thorpe said. “The public believes we are full-time, but we have full-time jobs. I believe it’s long past due.”

Ogorchock wanted all the funds to be spent to pay down the City’s unfunded liabilities.

But upon advice from City Manager Ron Bernal who said the staff could come back with more details on the proposals, it was decided the council will hold off on deciding how to spend the one-time funds.

 

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Antioch Council approves another cannabis business, votes down committee for city manager recruitment

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Delta Labs site on W. 10th Street. From presentation during Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021

Thorpe nominates Barbanica, Ogorchock to city manager recruitment ad hoc committee then votes against appointing them

Agree to settle employment discrimination lawsuit by former female Antioch cop against police department on 4-1 vote

Extend contract for city Public Information Officer at $8,000 per month for another six months

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 23, 2021, the Antioch Council approved another cannabis business, one that processes marijuana through a cold-water extraction, on a unanimous vote, approved settling a former female cop’s employment discrimination lawsuit against the police department on a split vote, and fails to form an ad hoc committee for the hiring of a new city manager on another split vote. They also voted unanimously to extend the city’s PIO contract for another six months.

Before the regular meeting began, following the council’s closed session, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith reported out regarding the lawsuit of Blanco v. City of Antioch, United States District Court Northern District of California, Case No. 3:20-cv-02764-TSH. The city council decided to settle the case, with Barbanica voting no, Smith said.

On April 21, 2020, former Antioch Police Officer Brittney Blanco filed a Civil Rights Employment Discrimination lawsuit against the police department. The case was filed in U.S. District Court, California Northern District. Blanco served on the force from July 2017 until August 2019. No word was given regarding the details of the settlement.

Extend $8K Monthly PIO Contract

During the Consent Calendar, the council voted unanimously to extend the contract for the City’s public information officer, Rolando Bonilla, of San Francisco-based Voler Strategic Advisors at $8,000 per month for another six months, through May 15, 2022. The total contract is not to exceed $256,000. Bonilla has been the City’s PIO since fall 2019. PIO Contract Extension ACC112321

Public Comments Now In-Person, Still Online and By Phone

At the start of the regular meeting, Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated that public comments from those in attendance at the council meetings would be heard first, followed by those who submitted their comments online or call in.

Delta Labs floorplan. From Antioch City Council meeting Nov. 23, 2021.

Unanimously Approve Another Cannabis Business

Delta Labs owner Rick Oak speaks about his business during the council meeting.

The council then held a public hearing on another cannabis business. According to City staff, “Delta Lab is proposing a cannabis operations facility with non-volatile extraction” manufacturing. It will be located in the same building where the same family owns Delta Dispensary on W. 10th Street. Delta Labs – city staff report ACC112321

The applicant, Rick Oak, along with his two sons, Dustin and Richard, spoke about their project which is “a cold-water extraction facility and family owned.” He showed a floorplan of the project and explained the product is dropped off process using small washing-type machines using ice to “knock off the hash from the product”. Then it’s stored in refrigerators until sold and picked up by truck.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock was the only member to ask a question about security.

“There’s a guard in our lobby in the dispensary,” Oak said.

With no one from the public speaking against the project, the council approved it on a 5-0 vote.

City Manager Recruitment Ad Hoc Committee

The council then considered forming an ad hoc committee on the recruitment of a permanent city manager.

“I think we have too much going on, right now,”said Wilson. “I think we should hold off until after the new year.”

Ogorchock volunteered to be on the ad hoc committee and Barbanica volunteered, too.

Thorpe then offered them as his nominees to the ad hoc committee.

Ogorchock made the motion and Barbanica seconded it, to approve the formation of the ad hoc committee, the appointment of the two council members, and a termination date of seven months.

“I’m looking at an estimated timeframe of April 30, 2022,” said Administrative Services Director Nickie Mastay.

The motion then failed on a 2-3 vote with Thorpe, Wilson and District 1 Councilwoman Torres-Walker voting no.

“Since that didn’t pass, it will come back, later,” Thorpe said.

 

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Antioch School Board approves $30.5 million plan for federal Emergency Relief funds, Householder abstains

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

Will be used to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as the opportunity gaps that existed before, and were exacerbated by, COVID-19

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, the Antioch School Board approved an expenditure plan for $30.5 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds on a 4-0-1 vote with Board President Ellie Householder voting to abstain. ESSER III Expenditure Plan Presentation

According to the district staff report, all school districts that receive ESSER funds under the American Rescue Plan, referred to as ESSER III funds, are required to develop an Expenditure Plan for how ESSER III funds will be used to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as the opportunity gaps that existed before, and were exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic.

AUSD staff participated “in meaningful stakeholder engagement to solicit input in the development of the plan”. Antioch Unified is due to receive $30,531,253 in ESSER III funds. Under the terms of ESSER III, a plan must be approved by the Board of Education and presented to the County Office of Education by October 31, 2021.

It was that tight timeframe and short notice, and because the information wasn’t also provided in Spanish, which Householder gave as reasons she didn’t want to vote on the plan.

Expenditure Plan Overview

According to the details of the Expenditure Plan, $12.25 million will be used to implement strategies for continuous and safe in-person learning; almost $9 million will be spent to address the academic impact of lost instructional time; $4.5 million to recruit and retain staff; and $4.8 million for facilities improvements and repairs.

The ESSER III funds may be expended during the period of March 1, 2020, through September 30, 2024. According to staff, no funds were expended prior to the creation and approval of the plan presented at the meeting.

 

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Your voice is needed to support the arts in Contra Costa

Monday, October 25th, 2021

Can you please write a letter to the Board of Supervisors by Nov. 2nd?

By Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County

Measure X is Contra Costa’s new countywide half-cent sales tax. The Measure X Community Advisory Board was formed to identify unmet community needs and recommend spending priorities to the Board of Supervisors. The Measure X Community Advisory Board recommended funding for the Arts and Culture Commission to the Board of Supervisors. At the Nov. 2nd meeting, Supervisors will be making final recommendations.

The current Contra Costa County $31,000 grant match budget is only a $.06 per person investment: Napa $3.55, Solano $2.19, Santa Clara $0.92, and Alameda County $0.54.

Please support signature programs that provide services to Contra Costa County: Arts and Culture Prospectus of Contra Costa County, ABOUTFACE, Poetry Out Loud, Youth Advisor, Jump StArts California Arts Council grant, Impact Projects California Arts Council grant, Art Passages, and more!

Transformational ideas include:

  • District Public Art Program: Let’s build Contra Costa County’s first public art program following best practices of other Bay Counties.
  • Youth Advisor in each District: We want to expand equity and opportunity to every District!
  • Arts Connection: We want to connect artists and art organizations for quarterly meetings for advocacy, opportunities, and data collection.
  • Community Art Fund: Support up to 5 community art projects a year!
  • AIRS (Artist-in-Residency in the School) pilot program: Place teaching artists in CCC schools to work with students to create an art project.
  • Build Structures: Community creates policy for new and signature programs based on equity!

Ask: $625,000 at $.54 per resident!

​​District locator: https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/5715/Supervisor-Who-Represents-Me

Please send email by Nov. 2nd!

Sample email: The arts are important to me and to my community. Please increase funding for the arts in Contra Costa County from $31,000 to $625,000 annually. This will help the Arts and Culture Commission demonstrate support for the arts to be competitive for national and state grants. This will support signature programs that directly impact all communities including our youth to Veterans. It will help provide public art programs in each district, a Community Art Fund, a youth advisor in each district, an Artist-In-Residency in the School pilot program, the Arts Connection and Build Structures initiative and other great programs. It will help our County stabilize arts funding and be able to plan equitably for the future. Thank you.

Let’s build an arts foundation for Contra Costa County!

 

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In spite of opposition Contra Costa Supervisors approve COVID-19 vaccine anti-misinformation resolution

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

“The Board…declares that COVID-19 health misinformation is an urgent public health crisis” – from resolution

“You are spreading misinformation that the vaccine is the be all and end all…” – county resident Carolyn Stream

“We are going to be as loud as we can be and as visible as we can be to put out information that is correct…” – Supervisor John Gioia

County might enter the less health restrictive yellow ranking by the end of October, currently has less than 75 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in county hospitals. – Contra Costa Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano

Discuss $110 million Measure X half-cent sales tax revenue wish list

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, on a 5-0 vote, approved a resolution aimed at turning around rising public skepticism against the COVID-19 vaccines during their regular, weekly meeting on Tuesday. It is entitled “Declaring COVID-19 Misinformation as a Public Health Crisis”. (See resolution and below)

Supervisors listened to 50 speakers, mostly opposed to the resolution that “declares COVID-19 health misinformation is an urgent public health crisis affecting our entire community and the County of Contra Costa commits to combating health misinformation is an urgent public health crisis affecting our entire community and County of Contra Costa commits to combating health misinformation and curbing the spread of falsehoods that threaten the health and safety of our residents.”

“We are going to be as loud as we can be and as visible as we can be to put out information that is correct, science-based and corrects the general misinformation that’s out there,” resolution-co-author District 1 Supervisor John Gioia said.

“We are not making any judgement against anyone,” said co-author Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill. “We’re not infringing on anyone’s free speech rights.  This is not the case.  We are calling out the misinformation that leads some to not be vaccinated.”

One message in the resolution states: “The Board of Supervisors and County of Contra Costa is troubled by and actively discourages the spread of COVID-19 misinformation as it is a dangerous threat to public health.”

“There are ae people who don’t believe in public officials,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville. “I will support this resolution because it conveys prudent decisions based on scientifically based information.”

District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover went right to the point. “Get your shot and protect yourself and your loved ones.”

But supervisors got an earful of criticism from the 50 speakers who viewed the supervisors’ resolution as a move in the wrong direction, a direction towards infringements of freedom of speech, “freedom of medical choice,” and “freedom of medical information.”

One such speaker, Lucy Busto of Oakley bristled at the supervisors for considering a resolution that would “infringe on our medical freedom of choice.”  She said, “We have no idea what the long-term effects of these vaccines are.”

“You are spreading misinformation that the vaccine is the be all and end all when there are many unanswered questions about the vaccine,” said another speaker, Carolyn Stream.

But retired nurse Mary Schreiber urged supervisors to adopt the resolution saying, “This is really supported by our health care professionals.”

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano, who also reported the county might enter the less health restrictive yellow ranking by the end of October, currently has less than 75 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in county hospitals.

“You are infringing on our rights to medical information,” said Lucy Busto of Oakley. “We have no idea what the long-term effects of these vaccines are”

“You are spreading misinformation that the vaccine is the be all end all”, said resolution opponent Carolyn Strum.  “We should have the freedom for information. No one should have the right to control information.”

Supervisors’ Measure X Wish List

With the county expect to plow in $110 million in Measure X sales tax revenues, $23 million more than initially estimated prior to vote passage last November, supervisors began to reveal their funding priorities with the additional money that the county officials expect to flow into county coffers.

During a presentation from Measure X Community Advisory Board Chair Mariana Moore, supervisors indicated what county operations should receive Measure X funding priority for the upcoming 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Initially county officials expected the Measure X tax would drive in $87 million in revenues, but higher than expected consumer retail sales has pumped up the initial projection.

Code enforcement, transit, fire services, sheriff response and patrols were top Measure X priorities Supervisor Mitchoff listed. Mitchoff will serve as board chair next year, her final year in office.

Board vice chair Glover rattled off the office of racial justice and equity, the northern waterfront planning project, animal services, youth services center, and mental got top billing.

Trails and public transit were on District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen’s Measure X list.

District 1 Supervisor John Gioia said county hospital, health clinics, transitionary housing and fire services especially in East County were on his Measure X list.

Improving fire services in East County, especially with the proposed consolidation for the Contra Costa County Fire District with the East Contra Costa County Fire District, was Chair Diane Burgis’ chief funding priority.

WHEREAS, Health misinformation has significantly undermined public health efforts and the unmitigated proliferation of health misinformation has created a culture of mistrust and has prolonged the COVID-19 pandemic, endangering the health and safety of all Contra Costa County residents and visitors; and

WHEREAS, The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in over 95,000 cases and 921 deaths in Contra Costa County as of September 25, 2021; and

WHEREAS, The spread of COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our health and safety, our regional economy, our elder residents, our communities of color, our mental health, the educational development of our children and every aspect of our lives; and

WHEREAS, In Contra Costa County, there are significantly lower vaccination rates for residents 20-29 years old, residents who identify themselves as White, Latinx (i.e. Latino/Hispanic), African-American, and more than one race/ethnicity, men, and in certain communities across the county and particularly in East and West County; and

WHEREAS, The COVID-19 vaccines have met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality and have been proven to be safe and effective; and WHEREAS, The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, brand name Comirnaty, has received full FDA approval and been proven to be highly effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and that its benefits outweigh its risks; and

WHEREAS, The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone in Contra Costa County at no cost, regardless of income, residency within the county, health coverage or immigration status, and is administered by health professionals, like nurses and doctors; and

WHEREAS, misinformation has caused confusion and has led to eligible people declining COVID-19 vaccines, rejecting public health measures such as face coverings and physical distancing, and using unproven treatments; and

WHEREAS, On July 15, 2021, the United States Surgeon General issued his first advisory describing the “urgent threat” posed by the rise of false information of COVID-19 – one that continues to put “lives at risk” and prolong the pandemic; and

WHEREAS, Recent surges in infections and hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Contra Costa have highlighted the importance of clear and unequivocal communications from public officials that vaccines are the best protection against severe illness and hospitalizations; and

WHEREAS, Urgent action is needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 by combating misinformation, thereby supporting our healthcare system and saving lives; and

WHEREAS, There would be substantial detriment on Contra Costa County and its residents and visitors if not acted upon immediately; and

WHEREAS, Trusted community members, such as health professionals, faith leaders, educators, and leaders of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color nationwide and in Contra Costa have spoken directly to their communities to address COVID-19 related questions by town halls, meetings, social media, and traditional media; and

WHEREAS, The Board of Supervisors and the County of Contra Costa is troubled by and actively discourages the spread of COVID-19 misinformation as it is a dangerous threat to public health; and

WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services continues to carry out its mission to care for and protect all Contra Costa County residents from COVID-19, especially our most vulnerable; and

WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services engages with our communities through building partnerships and trust with community organizations and residents, trusted messengers, and COVID-19 Ambassadors; and

WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services maintains a coronavirus website as a source of credible, up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 for Contra Costa residents at cchealth.org.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County declares that COVID-19 health misinformation is an urgent public health crisis affecting our entire community and the County of Contra Costa commits to combating health misinformation and curbing the spread of falsehoods that threaten the health and safety of our residents; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Board of Supervisors and the County of Contra Costa will develop and support policies and strategies that protect the health and safety of Contra Costa County residents through the promotion of evidence-based interventions, including face coverings and vaccination; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Contra Costa Health Services will continue to share facts and scientific information about COVID-19, to correct misinformation including vaccine myths, to identify and give a platform to culturally relevant medical experts and trusted messengers, to respond to questions and requests for information on social media, and to work with our media and community partners to reach a broad audience with factual, timely information.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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