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Council approves funding boost for PACT

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The Claremont City Council committed to spend $175,000 annually for two years to pay additional expenses connected with maintaining the Psychiatric Assessment Care Team, informally known as PACT. The city manager’s office has recommended the funding be drawn from revenue received through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Psychiatric Assessment Care Team, which is a partnership between the Claremont Police Department and Tri-City Mental Health, funds two trained and licensed mental health professionals who respond to certain non-emergency calls received by the police.

“The goal of the PACT is to utilize police resources more effectively and efficiently to respond to mental health needs of Claremont residents and/or visitors by using trained mental health professionals to take the lead on non-violent, non-criminal calls for assistance received by the police department, including responses to addressing persons with mental health needs who do not have a permanent residence,” police officials said in a statement when the program started.

The PACT program was approved by the city in February 2021, and the team has been responding to calls since last April. However, the team’s very existence was in doubt because of higher than expected costs, including liability insurance.

During the April 12 city council meeting, Katie Wand, assistant to the city manager, said Tri-City had been notified by Vantage Insurance Company that excess liability coverage of $2 million for the PACT team would carry a $200,000 annual premium.

“As a result of this unbudgeted expense associated with the insurance coverage, and due to the lack of available funding within their budget last month, Tri-City staff were going to recommend that their governing board temporarily suspend the PACT program and continue to work with city staff to find an acceptable solution,” Wand said.

The city has agreed to spend $175,000 in both 2022 and 2023 to address the budget shortfall created by the excessive insurance premium. That represents 50% of the program’s cost including roughly $150,000 in salary and benefits for the two PACT employees. Tri-City will cover the other half of the cost.

“This cost sharing agreement is reflective of our partnership with Tri-City and the value this program has brought to our residents and visitors,” Wand said.

Councilmember Sal Medina asked how long Claremont could continue funding PACT using only federal stimulus money before the city would have to find other revenue sources.

“The ARPA funding that we have received and will continue to receive has to be expended by the end of December 2026. So, for a little over four and a half years we could fund the program using ARPA funds exclusively,” City Manager Adam Pirrie said.

The increased funding will maintain PACT’s existing hours of service and number of employees.

Claremont returns to in-person meetings

During his city manager’s report, Adam Pirrie announced the Claremont City Council would return to in-person meetings at city hall beginning on April 26.

The meeting will be conducted in a hybrid format, meaning that people could still participate from home, including speaking during public comment. Commissions will return to in-person meetings on May 1.

Changes coming to curbside dining?

At its next meeting on April 26 the council will discuss the COVID era Claremont Al Fresco program which allowed restaurants to commandeer parking adjacent to their business for expanded outdoor dinning. The program is scheduled to end on July 4, and the city is looking for input from residents. The outdoor dining program has been popular and enabled many restaurants to make ends meet during the height of the pandemic, however, it has also resulted in fewer parking spots for businesses that do not serve food.

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