City allocates $2.5M+ in COVID stimulus funds for building maintenance, remodeling

The City of Piedmont will use most of the $2,663,728 in federal COVID-19 stimulus bill payments it is to receive to help fund long-deferred city building maintenance and remodeling needs, with another $100,000 chunk of that money going to the Piedmont Unified School District to help pay for a temporary full-time school nurse to help with COVID-related needs.

The City Council on Monday voted unanimously on how to use the city’s share of money from the $1.9 trillion provided to American governments through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, designed to help cities bounce back from the direct and indirect costs of COVID. California cities under 50,000 population will share $1.2 billion, city Finance Director Michael Szczech told the council.

Piedmont received the first $1.331 million of this money in July, and should get the rest in July 2022, Szczech said. All the money must be spent or committed by December 2024. 

The two top priorities the Council has for this money are city Dispatch Center relocation or remodel, and the master-planning process for a new or renovated Police Department, Fire Department and City Hall.

Other prospective uses, according to a city staff report, are “one or a combination of” city hall basement digitization of residential property files and remodeling of city office space; Fire Department living quarters renovation; and Recreation Department building renovation.

Szczech said that of the $2,663,729 allocated to the city, about 90 percent — $2,382,545 — is tied to “lost revenue” owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, as determined by a four-point measurement calculation. Thus, that latter amount is eligible to be used for building facilities needs, as well as for other infrastructure projects. 

Separately, in September, the City Council approved moving $3.5 million from the city’s general fund to its Facilities Maintenance Fund, also to free up money to help pay for new or renovated city buildings and for repairs and maintenance.

“We’re maximizing the benefits for what Piedmont residents need the most,” Councilwoman Conna McCarthy said.

The more specifically restricted funds, Szczech said — about $281,000 — are intended to cover the city’s direct COVID-19-related expenses incurred since March 3, 2021. From that will come the $100,000 for the temporary (approximately one year) full-time nurse who would help both the school district and the city’s Recreation Department COVID-19-response needs as well. 

“It’s critically important that they have the health assistance that they need,” Mayor Teddy Gray King said. 

Other money would go to provide premium pay to certain Piedmont Recreation Department child care workers exposed on a daily basis to COVID-related health risks.

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