CLAYTON, CA (Jan. 21, 2021) — The Clayton City Council is doing their best to give money away, but they are finding it more difficult than they thought.
At the Nov. 18 meeting, the council unanimously approved using the $1,467,025 first installment of the city’s $2,934,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to directly assist Clayton’s businesses and households staggering under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, dubbed “Clayton Cares,” provides interest-free, forgivable loans of $5,000 to qualifying businesses and $1,500 grants to low-income households.
However, as of last Friday, only 28 Clayton businesses and two households had applied for and received grants. Of the original $988,000 allocated for business grants, the city has dispersed just $140,000. The Pioneer received a $5,000 grant in early January.
Stepping up outreach
At the Jan. 4 meeting, the council, surprised at the disappointing take rate, directed staff to step up outreach and crunch the numbers to see how much more could be approved for businesses and households.
In the staff report for the Jan. 18 meeting, which was held after press time, staff recommended the grants be increased to $10,000 for all stakeholders They suggested raising income limits for households from 50% to 65%.
Additionally, the council wants to give the city’s police and all staff except the city manager $10,000 “hero pay” bonuses.
Police Officer’s Association president Sgt. Rich Enea asked the council in December for a bonus for the officers who put themselves at risk “on the front lines” during the pandemic, noting that Concord gave their officers a $3,400 bonus.
“I completely support this, but it’s not enough,” said Councilmember Holly Tillman. “It needs to be more.”
After discussion, the council recommended a $10,000 essential worker bonus for each of the city’s 26 full-time employees and a pro rata share for the two part-time workers.
“We don’t always have a chance to recognize the good work that our police and others do in the city,” Councilmember Jeff Wan noted. “This is a one-time source of funds that are eligible for this purpose.”
“How often do we get federal funds to help support our people?” asked Councilmember CW Wolfe.
Even with the hero pay bonuses and the increase in grant amounts, there would still be enough to fund 52 more business grants and 24 households.
“I encourage us to go back to the well to solicit more participation as well as increasing the dollar amount,” Wan said. “Please sign up, because we want to give you money.
“It’s a pretty good pitch. I don’t know if we need much more than that.”
For more information or to apply for a Clayton Cares grant, go to claytonca.gov or call 925-673-7300.