Council delays spending of ARPA funds for duct cleaning and park security cameras

A resolution to spend $145,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act to clean out the air ducts of various buildings in the city was put on hold last week over concerns from a member that only an offer had been received.

The council also delayed using federal funds to purchase park security cameras.

The board previously approved the concept of using a portion of ARPA funds to clean the air ducts of the Community Center, Legion Hall, City Hall, Annex and buildings. of public safety. These conduits have not been cleaned for years due to lack of funds.

Councilor James Casey removed the item, noting that there were no more bidders. But Sam Royal, the city’s acting director of public works, said three companies were invited to bid and only Coit Cleaning and Restoration responded.

Ceres resident John Osgood, who could run for council this year, has expressed his objection to the use of federal funds for routine maintenance.

“The ARPA funds aren’t here forever and I’m pretty sure all three of you know my feelings about these funds,” Osgood said. “These funds were taxed illegally, unconstitutionally. We base our municipal budget on these funds. First, they are stolen from the people. Second, they won’t be there later to bail us out. I should have sent all those funds back to Washington, DC and told them, “You won’t take advantage of us. We are smart enough to budget our own city. We have to deal with those kinds of things – air duct cleanings – out of the general fund.

He also noted that the city had no money in the general fund to clean the ducts “so we’re asking Uncle Sam for money.”

Local governments received the money from Congress, which has exclusive authority to levy federal taxes.

John Warren noted that the offer was not broken down by the number of employees to be used or the hourly rate.

“It was just a number,” Warren said. “Eighty grand for city hall and no breakdowns. It’s not an offer. An offer details everything that will be done.

Royal said that since federal taxpayers’ money is being used, the company bills at prevailing union wages. He also said a detailed breakdown was unnecessary as it was merely a duct cleaning and not a technical undertaking like a road project.

Mayor Javier Lopez offered council to table the item “for further discussion.” Silveira supported Casey, who expressed initial concerns about an offer, voting no. The motion passed 2-1.

Mike Kline was absent from the meeting and the District 2 seat remains vacant until the election.

Park cameras

The council also engaged in discussion about spending $530,000 in ARPA funds for security cameras at city parks and facilities.

Casey removed the article because he noted that Guillermo Ochoa Park was not among the parks where cameras should be placed. Police Chief Rick Collins had indicated that 33 cameras and 11 walkways were to be purchased for installation at River Bluff Park, Smyrna Park and its skate park and municipal court, Roeding Heights Park and the tennis courts and the Lookout, Strawberry Fields Park and Whitmore Park and Lookout.

“Ochoa Park seems to have a lot of vandalism and it wasn’t there,” Casey noted.

Collins said his department plans to request more money in the near future by using a second round of ARPA funding to equip other areas of Ceres with cameras, including more parks and some street intersections.

“This particular project was big,” Chief Collins said, “and we had to cut it to the amount of money we thought we could get and we thought we’d get back to the table in the second half of the company’s spending plan. ‘ARPA.

He said cameras could be equipped in Ochoa Park, but electrical service and lighting are required for the cameras to be feasible.

City Manager Alex Terrazas said the resolution did not include allowances for installation and materials, so the city is asking for an additional $30,000.

Vice Mayor Bret Silveira noted that the council made its decision to spend ARPA funds before the upsurge in vandalism at Ochoa Park.

“Basically, if we had known Ochoa Park was going through this much vandalism before we started this ARPA spend process, I’d like to think we would have gotten it in there,” Silveira said.

Terrazas said the city will soon be kicking off design work for the completion of Ochoa Park “so really time to integrate the deployment of these cameras and the type of plan where they’re going to be with the infrastructure that goes with that.” is during design.”

Ceres resident John Warren said he noted the contract provided for the cameras to be rented by the city and said “in five years we have nothing left.” He suggested buying them and having the city’s IT staff oversee them,

Mayor Lopez said there’s an advantage to renting cameras if there’s an upgrade in the next few years.

Police Chief Rick Collins said the company, EPIC iO Technologies, Inc., would maintain the cameras and system, but police and city staff would monitor the footage.

Silveira said renting is cheaper than buying cameras and technology could make the camera obsolete within five years. Repairs and maintenance are also covered by the lease.

On roll call, Lopez said he didn’t feel comfortable voting on it and wanted to table it. The two members present followed him.

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