On Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council discussed how it would spend $417,322 in one-time revenues which it received from savings throughout the fiscal year.
With Councilmembers Joy Motts, Lamar Thorpe and Monica Wilson agreeing to spend a majority of the one-time money on homeless services, staff will shift $367k into their new homeless services account and spend $50k on upgrading technology at the Nick Rodriguez Center.
In total, the city of Antioch has allocated $517k towards its homeless services account, plus another $100k on their yet to be hired unhoused resident coordinator position for a total of $617k.
Prior to deciding how to spend one-time money, the council received an update on its approving of expenditures for encumbrances and project budgets outstanding to the Fiscal Year 2019-20 and approving amendments for 2020-21 which highlights a $2 million litigation case that will hit the budget while an adjustment to CalPers will cost the city an extra $505k. The city is also spending $162k on an interim Public Works Director and Deputy Public Works Director filled by per diem retired employees.
According to Finance Director Dawn Merchant, she explained that in the 2019-20 budget, they still have a 27.71% reserve, but they are deficit spending by $4.25 million. She noted while it shows a deficit, Antioch has very healthy reserves. By 2021-22, the city is deficit spending by $535k which is mostly attributed to CalPers.
The council then discussed how to spend $417,322 in one-time money.
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock stated she wanted to see funding for the community cameras for the Antioch Police Department and items for the Nick Rodriguez equipment.
Chief Tammany Brooks then highlighted the importance of these cameras when crimes are committed and how much impact they have had in solving crimes.
Mayor Sean Wright agreed saying he would like to see them add more cameras to enable the city to move faster on installing these cameras.
“What is really not on here and something we have been talking about for the past six months is what we are going to do with the homeless situation in Antioch,” said Motts. “We have made some initial adjustments as far as emergency and urgency things we have talked about doing and setting some money aside for restrooms and showers and laundry services and hopefully save parking program and warm winter nights program, all of this is in the works but still can’t come fast enough. I just want to remind everyone, before I was on the council when you went out to hear from the community on their top priorities that homelessness was one of the top 3 or 4 things they have been worried about so I think we have been spot on trying to address some of the things that are important to the community.”
Motts said her recommendation was to take this one-time money and set it aside in the homeless services account they set up at the last meeting under the City manager with the new unhoused resident coordinator position.
“Having this money here now is a little bit of a windfall and taking this and setting this aside for what we may be able to do as meeting some of these needs, that would be my recommendation,” said Motts.
Councilmember Monica Wilson said they needed to do something with the homeless because it is an emergency.
“Although this was not on the list and I don’t know why it didn’t pop up in my head to look at possibly adding more funding to what the homeless ad-hoc committee recommended for us to do this would probably be a really good opportunity to spend some one-time money in that account to help us move forward and hopefully get people into some housing or get food,” said Wilson. “I would support that recommendation.”
Motts stated that would you look at San Jose and Vallejo in making that first step and make a financial commitment, partners are coming in. She said she was hopefully that once they beginning taking steps, other partners will come into Antioch.
Councilmember Lamar Thorpe stated he had some other ideas of how to spend the one-time money. When it came to cameras, he said he believed it needed to be spent as a regular budget item and in that process. He did, however, request sound equipment for the Nick Rodriguez Community Center to assist the arts program.
Motts clarified her position saying she was not against all the items recommended by staff because they needed all of them.
“All of these are very valuable, but when it comes to addressing this problem, we have never addressed it before. This is the first time as a city we have looked at this growing problem with our homeless,” said Motts. “I would like to see a majority of the one-time revenue, as much as possible, go towards the homeless coordinator position and look at what we want to do in the future.”
Wright said he was in favor of spending money on the sound system at the Nick Rodriquez Center after Lee Ballesteros explained they only have capability for one microphone, the system can’t be replaced, the whole system had to be replaced as it was last updated in 1992.
Thorpe proposed using $17k for the Nick Rodriquez Center and at the mid-year review in March, filling in that gap.
Wright noted that even if they took out the lawsuit costs that shouldn’t be there, they are still $2.5 million deficit spending. He suggested he didn’t know if there would be extra money available.
Merchant reminded the council if they spent the full $50k ask for the Nick Rodriquez Center it still left $367k left to spend on homeless services.
Motts said she was okay with that.
Ogorchock argued that if they did the Nick Rodriquez Center and community cameras, it still left them with $252k to spend on homeless services.
“To me, community safety is a top priority,” said Ogorchock. “The more we can be safe in the city and give the police officers more tools in the tool belt the better off we will be. There are a lot of people who are saying the city is not safe and we don’t want that, we want a safe city and we need to enhance those programs.”
Mayor Wright said he would also like to see a second set of community cameras.
Thorpe responded saying he would like to see them go through the regular budget process.
Wilson said she understood the police department needed the cameras, but called the homeless a very pressing issue and they needed to tackle the problem.
“I get emails everyday from advocates, from people complaining and its something we need to address,” said Wilson.
With a majority consensus, the council agreed to spend $50k at the Nick Rodriquez Community Center to upgrade technology and the remaining balance to homeless services.