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Council hears six-month evaluation report on PACT

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

During Tuesday night’s Claremont City Council meeting Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen gave a presentation evaluating the performance of the Psychiatric Assessment Care Team during its first few months on the job.

The Psychiatric Assessment Care Team (PACT), including licensed psychiatric technician Shawna Acosta and licensed marriage and family therapist Danielle Cervantes, responds to certain non-violent, non-criminal police calls involving individuals experiencing some type of mental health crisis. A police officer accompanies the team on all calls.

The Claremont Police Department in partnership with Tri-City Mental Health implemented the PACT program in April after it was approved by the city council in February. The program had long been a priority for both Claremont Chief Vander Veen and the PACT’s Director Shawn Smith.

During her comments Tuesday night Chief Vander Veen said she initially imagined there would not be enough work in Claremont to keep the team busy, but the opposite has been the case, with the PACT responding to an average of 30 calls a month from April to July.

The goal of PACT was to use police resources more effectively by assigning a mental health professional to handle duties that used to take officers off their beats. In particular, writing 5150 holds — in which an individual is temporarily institutionalized —commonly took a police officer away from the streets for several hours because that officer had to escort the person to the hospital.

“Prior to the development of the PACT, Claremont officers conducted all mental health evaluations, wrote 5150 holds, and transported the individuals to local hospitals,” according to Chief Vander Veen.

During the four months for which data was presented, 50 holds were written, including 26 by the PACT, and involved 21 individuals who were transported to the hospital by ambulance as opposed to being handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. The majority of these holds, 32, involved Claremont residents, followed by 10 people who were described as transient, according to a chart in the staff report.

Of the 118 calls to which the PACT team responded, 57, or 48% were for unhoused individuals, 16 of which resulted in a 5150 hold.

“Regardless of the origin of the initial response, the PACT provides follow-up to those individuals and families contacted to ensure they are connected to appropriate ongoing services. Officers also communicate opportunities for follow-up by PACT on calls they handle after the established PACT hours,” Chief Vander Veen said in her report.

“Over the last five months since initial implementation, the program has been continuously evaluated using data, community feedback and collaborating partners’ experiences and has been adjusted or modified as needed. The program has become an outstanding resource for both the police department and community,” Chief Vander Veen said in her report to the council.

Approximately $16,000 total monthly salary and benefits paid to the PACT employees is funded by Tri-City’s “1991” realignment funding, an arrangement between the state and counties that dedicates portions of vehicle licensing fees and sales tax revenues to county health, mental health, and social services programs.

Economic development firm to assist city with COVID relief funds

As part of the consent calendar the city council authorized City Manager Adam Pirrie to sign a contract with HdL ECONSolutions to administer the funds awarded to the city by the federal government under the American Recue Plan Act. Passed by Congress earlier this year, the money given to municipalities under ARPA is designed to offset the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city will pay HdL ECONSolutions $49,500 to develop a strategy for the best use of the money, given the complexities involved in administering these federal funds, as well as limited in-house resources. The company will be paid with ARPA funds.

“This one-time infusion of funds is welcomed as it will help mitigate losses incurred in the community during the pandemic, which has extended for almost two years. The sooner a recovery plan is developed, the faster the city can stabilize operations, get the local economy back on track, and support those in the community most impacted by the pandemic,” city staff said in its report.

The tasks HdL ECONSolutions will provide include assisting the city in calculating revenue loss as required by the law, as well as helping staff understand any requirements and submissions to the state or the federal government. Additionally, the company will help the city develop a recovery strategy to effectively allocate the $8.6 million promised to the city under the act.

The company will also screen proposed spending and serve as an “on call” resource to ensure Claremont’s ARPA expenditures are consistent with rules and guidelines under the law as well as assist staff as needed to prepare for an audit or compliance reports.

City to finance improvement projects, HVAC replacement, new roofs

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to enter into a California authorizing execution and delivery lease agreement to finance needed improvements to certain city-owned real properties, and authorized the city manager to negotiate a construction agreement with Trane Incorporated not to exceed $6,577,150 to complete the projects.

“At its January 12, 2021 meeting, the city council awarded a contract to Trane U.S., Inc., for comprehensive energy improvement project development services and implementation. The city council also authorized the city manager to enter a private loan for the full cost of the comprehensive energy improvement project,” Community Services Director Jeremy Swan wrote in the staff report.

Since that approval, Trane has completed an in-depth analysis of all city facilities and developed the final project budget, which came in higher than the $5,580,600 the council agreed to in January. The cost over runs are due to the increased cost of materials including a 149% increase in the price of steel from a year ago. In addition labor costs are 3 to 4% higher, according to the staff report.

“The city has approximately $3,000,000 in deferred maintenance items that would have to be addressed within the next few years if the [Trane] projects did not move forward,” according to the staff report.

Among the repairs and improvements, roofs will be replaced at the Hughes Center, which only has a few more years of usefulness, and at the Joslyn Center, which needs immediate repair. Also, 32 HVAC systems, with an average age of 22.2 years, will be replaced. Finally, old lighting will be replaced with new energy efficient units, and solar panels will installed at the City Yard, Hughes Center, Taylor Hall, Youth Activity Center and police facilities.

“In order to provide approximately $6.28 million to fund the projects, the city will lease certain real property initially consisting generally of the City Yard to the Public Property Financing Corporation of California,” according to the report.

One of this corporation’s main purposes is to provide a way for public agencies to finance public improvements.

Closed session report

During a closed session before the regular meeting the council performed an initial performance review of City Manager Adam Pirrie as required in his contract.

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