CDBG grant funding allocations include cost for Senior Center coordinator

February 27, 2013
Santa Paula City Council

The City Council voted to go against the recommendation of a citizen advisory panel for the city to tap into the General Fund, rather than continue to use federal funds to pay for a coordinator at the Senior Center.

The council voted on their recommended Community Development Block Grant allotments at the February 19 meeting.

The annual allotments are a program of the Department of Housing & Urban Development and are awarded on a per capita basis. The city received $250,700 in CDBG funding, a 10 percent reduction from last year and a drop of approximately 37 percent experienced in recent years. 

By law, 15 percent of the annual CDBG allotment must be spent for social service programming, while the balance goes for so-called “brick and mortar” projects. This year social services garnered $32,700 of the total allotment.

This year all the project funding went to the city, with the council setting aside $28,000 to add to the fund for Fire Station No. 2 at 536 W. Main Street. Ultimately the CDBG funding - a little more than a third of the $75,000 requested - will be used to expand the stationhouse to provide shelter for another fire engine and also upgrade firefighter living quarters.

The condition of the restrooms at Veterans Memorial Park across the street from City Hall was criticized by a public speaker in recent months, with staff acknowledgements that the facility needed rehabilitation. At the February 19 meeting the council allotted $75,000 to upgrade the restrooms at the park.

Council members also allocated $25,000 to the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program, which provides low-interest loans and emergency grants to fix rundown housing. The council also gave $90,000 to the city Housing Code Enforcement program.

When it came to social service programming there was some division on the council over allocations, with Mayor Ralph Fernandez urging that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Clara Valley receive funding. Vice Mayor Rick Cook wanted assurances that the funding requested was targeted for only Santa Paula youth programs. 

Elisabeth Amador, the city manager’s administrative assistant who oversees the CDBG process, reminded the council that this year federal guidelines are emphasizing programs to prevent homelessness, meet basic needs, or provide housing. 

The issue that brought the most discussion was allocating about $23,000 in funding for the Senior Center coordinator. The advisory committee appointed by council members - there were only four this year - recommended that the city not use CDBG at all for the coordinator, but rather pull the funding from the General Fund. After more discussion about potentially shifting funds, the council voted to give $12,700 to the Senior Center coordinator and $10,000 each to the Brown Bag senior lunch program and Boys & Girls Club.

Several council members also questioned the Board of Supervisors’ final allocation of funding and general county oversight of the program for the five smaller cities in the county. 

In 2009 Santa Paula failed to make a filing deadline for continued CDBG operation. City staff told the council in 2010 that county oversight was better for staff that no longer has to oversee contracts and other aspects of grant fulfillment that the city received a percentage stipend for administrating.

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