National City will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in after-school programs, award bonuses to attract more police dispatchers and create new positions to fight homelessness and climate change in the new fiscal year that begins July 1.
Board members recently unanimously approved a general fund budget that projects spending of $66.2 million and raising of $66.6 million, leaving a surplus of approximately $400,000.
The projected surplus is the first in a decade an “achievement,” according to City Manager Brad Raulston, was made possible after City Council authorized the use of $6 million in federal stimulus funds through 2024 to compensate for lost revenue during the pandemic.
Over the past few months, during the drafting of the budget, the city council considered several proposals to hire staff in animal control and code enforcement and to create positions for homelessness and environmental justice. . In the end, they agreed to spend over $800,000 on these additions.
- $150,000 for an animal control officer and necessary equipment. This new position would join the current single agent to enable seven-day-a-week coverage;
- $106,500 for a full-time code enforcement officer to join three other officers;
- $144,500 for a new homelessness outreach coordinator who will facilitate potential programs, identify resources, and connect the city to nonprofits;
- $159,000 for a new community health and environment staff for long-term climate action and environmental justice planning;
- $30,000 for a ballot to eliminate the elected positions of City Clerk and Treasurer and make them appointed positions;
- $100,000 for after-school programs, which would cover staff and services that have not yet been identified;
- $140,000 for dispatcher signing bonuses and retention allowances.
In the new fiscal year, National City will build on revenue growth from new sources, such as its future cannabis market and used-car dealership CarMax.
The overall budget also includes $3 million in remaining funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. Stimulus dollars will be used to improve the town’s cultural assets, a new car for its homeless outreach team, and new park features, such as a dog park and lighting at Kimball, a pool wading pool in Las Palmas and restrooms at Paradise Creek Educational Park.
Council members debated whether $250,000 allocated for a yoga lawn at Las Palmas Park and $250,000 for cultural property improvements would be better spent creating grants for small businesses.
Council member Jose Rodriguez, who made the suggestion, said the federal stimulus dollars were “intended to help our businesses thrive…I think we should at least deliver on that promise.”
His motion died in a 3-2 vote, with Vice Mayor Marcus Bush voting in favor. Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and Councilman Ron Morrison agreed that ARPA funds are best spent on one-time funded items and businesses can still access financial assistance through the county. or the state.