Within a few hours of yesterday’s San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond each sent out communications regarding the Board’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds. Here is the text of both communications.
Anderson Press Release…
ANDERSON SOLE VOTE AGAINST “COVID BONUS”
Supported Adding More Funds for Business Relief Efforts
(SAN DIEGO) — During the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ June 8 approval of a framework allocating more than $653 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), Supervisor Joel Anderson was the sole vote against spending $36 million in “COVID Bonuses,” for County public employees. The measure required 4 affirmative votes to pass.
Average County Employee Makes over $124,000 in Salary/Benefits
Supervisor Anderson noted that his East County district had some of the highest areas of poverty, even prior to the COVID pandemic.
While Anderson “…appreciates the hard work and passion County employees demonstrate in serving the public, we should not pay COVID BONUSES to individuals whose average pay and benefits are over $124,000, and not one employee lost their job, unlike 100,000 San Diegans.”
Supported Adding More Funds for Business Relief Efforts
The County will use $33 million in ARPA funding to assist eligible small businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees. An estimated 100,000 employees in San Diego County lost their jobs during the pandemic, many of them in the service sector. Small businesses account for approximately 95% of all businesses in the region, and over half of the region’s employment base.
Supervisor Joel Anderson shared, “Today was a huge win for the hundreds of San Diego County businesses that faced, and continue to experience, hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud of my colleagues for approving this ARPA framework that will provide critical support to the many mom & pop businesses in my district that could use a helping hand during these challenging times.”
“The decisions this Board made today for how to spend our ARPA allocation is reflective of our values by choosing to assist many different entities and groups recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic,” said Chair Nathan Fletcher. “Supervisor Joel Anderson made a compelling case for increasing funding for businesses and I was proud to support his effort to add millions of dollars in business stimulus funds.”
Shortly after Supervisor Anderson was elected, he partnered with Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer from District 3 to co-author a board letter to expand the County’s COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Plan. In this board letter on February 9, 2021, the Supervisors requested that a minimum of $30 million be deployed through the Small Business Stimulus Grant program. Actions taken at today’s board meeting surpass this minimum requirement by an additional $3 million.
The Board also allocated ARPA funds for homeless services, housing vouchers and property acquisition, rental assistance for small landlords, broadband services, food distribution, and for local, independent fire districts which were operationally impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
Desmond Email Communication…
Earlier today, the Board of Supervisors voted to allocate over $600 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. These dollars, which have been distributed by the Federal Government, are intended for COVID-19 relief. The way I approached this: these are taxpayer dollars and I believe it should be given back to the people who were most impacted by the pandemic. As we all know, the past 15 months, have been incredibly difficult, but my hope is these dollars will help San Diegans as we recover from the pandemic!
Below are some of the items where money will be allocated:
Waiving Fees for Restaurants and Events
The restaurant and special events industries have been some of the hardest hit over the last year. Restaurants have suffered from opening, closing, purchasing equipment outside, only to be shut down once again. Special events, like street fairs, concerts, and food festivals haven’t been able to operate for over 14 months. As we head towards a full reopening, I want to make sure we do all we can to help the recovery of these businesses.
Today, the Board of Supervisors voted to waive the fees for both restaurants and special events. The cost for these fees is about $9 million in total but will be paid for by the ARPA dollars.
Youth Sports/Camps Grant Program
Kids have suffered greatly over the last year, from virtually learning to not being able to play the sports they love; the last 14 months have been extremely difficult for our kids and their parents. Youth sports participation is down in San Diego County, and I don’t want money to be the reason.
Today, the Board made the decision to allocate $2 million towards a grant program for youth sports and youth camp tuitions. While I was hoping for more money, this will help those unable to afford camps or competing in sports.
Fire Special Protection Districts
To make up for COVID-19 costs, independent fire districts across the region were reimbursed $4 million. The independent fire districts in District 5 are:
-Rancho Santa Fe Fire
-North County Fire
-Valley Center Fire
-Deer Springs Fire
-San Marcos Fire
-Borrego Springs Fire
Child Care Subsidies
As more San Diegans head back to their jobs, many children are still participating in school under a hybrid model. This leaves a huge need for access to child care.
Today, the Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $16 million to provide vouchers to families in need, grants to child care providers, workforce training and investments in child care facilities.
Broadband for the Unincorporated Area
The lack of high-speed internet in the rural area has been exacerbated by COVID-19. It’s vitally important that everyone, especially our students have access to high-speed internet. Even with in-person learning starting up again, it’s imperative that students have internet access for homework and other activities.
Today, the Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $10 million for broadband services in San Diego County. This is a major step as we continue to help eliminate the digital divide.
Mental Health Services
Behavioral health was an issue before COVID-19 and continues to have a major impact on our region. Drug overdoses rose to an all-time high during COVID-19 and tragically we saw teenage suicides rise dramatically.
Today, the Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $32 million for behavioral health needs for children, youth and families. Stakeholder groups will develop and implement a plan that best addresses the needs of those involved.
This is an extremely important need that will save lives.
Many senior citizens and those unable to leave their homes suffered greatly during the pandemic. Today, the Board of Supervisors allocated $9 million to food distribution programs.
Food banks and meal delivery programs will assist those who are in need of meals, but unable to afford or access this necessary nutrition.
Small Business Stimulus Grant
The Small Business Stimulus Grant Program is funded by Board of Supervisors allocated federal CARES Act funding and County General Fund. The grant funding provides economic assistance to help businesses and nonprofit entities impacted by COVID-19.
Financial assistance will be allocated to eligible, qualified small businesses and nonprofit entities with final award recommendations made by individual district offices based on the availability of funds, program guidelines, and the submission of all required information and supporting documentation.
Everyone must fill out a new application for the third round of funding. Keep an eye out this week for more information.