CBO to reboot recommendations; sanitation increase a reality

The Claremont City Council meeting became a lively event Tuesday night. Two particular items on the agenda, funding for the 2014-15 Community-Based Organization (CBO) General Services and Homeless Services Program and the sanitation rate increase, incited emotional reactions from the public as well as members of the council.

Kathleen Trepa, director of community and human services, fielded numerous council questions about the grant allocation policy guidelines serving the CBO program. Raising red flags from the council was the 20 percent fund allocation dedicated to new and emerging CBO programs, which “addresses a newly identified community need or a quantifiable increase in the level of an existing service directed towards providing essential social services to Claremont residents or students.”

This year, four of the 28 programs seeking a CBO?grant, including the Claremont Homeless Advocacy Program (CHAP), were first-time applicants and considered pilot programs in the Claremont community.

In all, these groups requested a total of 32 percent of the available funding. The commission, however, only allocated 3 percent of its resources to these new and emerging programs, citing financial limitations.

The commission’s recommendation did not sit well with CHAP representative Karl Hilgert, who addressed the council and stated that the $1000 allotted to his organization felt like “a slap in the face” after he was encouraged to apply and was led to believe the group would receive sufficient funding.

Mayor Joe Lyons, apologizing for the tone in his voice, concurred with Mr. Hilgert, pointing out that CHAP had indeed been before the council on numerous occasions with more or less a promise that—given a track record of demonstrating the ability to meet a particular group’s needs—they might expect support.

“It is a slap in the face because if [CHAP’s] own home city doesn’t support their activities to the extent that the community has, I agree with the speaker. In my mind, it’s unacceptable,” Mr. Lyons asserted.

One program that was not recommended for any funding was the Claremont Museum of Art’s Project ARTstART program. Ms. Trepa told the council that as the commission started allocating funds, $1000 was recommended for the ARTstART program. The commissioners, however, ultimately decided not to recommend any funding for the year because “the program had been self-sustaining the year prior and the CMA had been successful in securing larger grants from other sources.”

Several paid interns and impassioned student volunteers, as well as CMA Board President Sandy Baldonado, addressed the council, voicing concerns about the elimination of funds from the program and stressing the need to expose the city’s youth to creative outlets.

Mayor Lyons later addressed to the audience, saying, “The community has to know there aren’t any art programs. That our schools are not being funded sufficiently so that perhaps in their voting, they will take that into account and hold people accountable to those programs and to those they elect to do something about that.”

The nonprofit Claremont Educational Foundation (CEF) provides ongoing financial support to schools for art and music instruction. Last year, CEF donated upwards of $200,000 to the Claremont Unified School District to fund art and music instruction in schools.

The original Claremont Museum of Art, which opened in the Packing House in 2006, has received financial support from the city in the past. In September of 2009, while under financial stress, the CMA requested and received $4500 and another $5700 in funding from the city to keep its doors open. Then again in November 2009, city council approved $18,879 from the public art fund to assist the CMA in continuing and developing community art programs. Despite the close to $30,000 in city funding, the CMA museum space closed the following month.

At Tuesday’s meeting, as the council continued to question Ms. Trepa about CBO funding, City Manager Tony Ramos suggested that the council work directly with the community and human services commission to “fine tune this amazing program.”

“Now with a new Human Services director on board, we can really analyze the ambiguities in the [CBO] program and how it actually works,” Mr. Ramos told the council.

The city manager’s additional recommendation of adding a workshop in September, enabling council to address the Human Services Commission’s concerns about new and emerging programs, was well-received by all council members.

Following discussion, the council unanimously agreed with the city manager’s recommendation to the council that they refer the item back to the commission and reconsider the commission’s allocations at their second meeting in June.

The commission will re-examine the funding allocations on June 4, particularly the 20 percent for new and emerging programs, and report back to council on June 24.

Following the Community Based Organization Grant Program debate, council unanimously approved a one percent increase in sanitation fees beginning July 1.

According to city staff and the current budget projections for the Sanitation Fund, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase is necessary to sustain operations. Councilman Opanyi Nasiali admitted he doesn’t like rate increases but wanted residents to know, in this case, he feels it’s a necessity.

“This is a self-supporting service and if we don’t maintain it, the delivery center and the company that provides the service will run into problems,” he said. “As much as I don’t like increases, this is one that we have to do.”

Additional fee changes recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee in March are also moving forward. For the 365 customers currently receiving off-street service that means fees will be increasing to $22.14 per month for the first three containers.

Existing alley customers who receive off-street service free of charge will continue to do so for a period of 10 years or until the property changes hands. After that, the property owners would then be responsible for paying the $22.14 monthly charge for service.

Bin off-street fees are also increasing to $13.70 per pickup and bin rate rentals rates will rise to $115 per week/pickup.

For low-income and disabled customers receiving off-street service, rates will remain unchanged

The one percent CPI increase is projected to bring an additional $48,670 to the city’s sanitation fund.

—Angela Bailey



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