Scottsdale City Council allocates AZCares Fund amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted 7/6/20

Nearly $30 million in federal funds have officially made their way through the municipal approval process, providing monetary assistance for Scottsdale community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. …

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Scottsdale City Council allocates AZCares Fund amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted

Nearly $30 million in federal funds have officially made their way through the municipal approval process, providing monetary assistance for Scottsdale community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 1, Scottsdale City Council accepted $29,628,014 from the AZCares Fund as part of the federal CARES Act with a unanimously 7-0 vote.

Uses range from utility assistance for residents to providing retrofitting to city businesses that house large quantities of people.

The money will be divvied up to:

  • $3 million for care for vulnerable citizens;
  • $450,000 for residential utility assistance program;
  • $3.1 million for community facilities safety upgrades;
  • $1.5 million for arts and culture programs;
  • $100,000 for public health communication;
  • $5 million for business assistance programs;
  • $2.2 million for city buildings safety retrofits;
  • $871,232 for telework/technology expenses;
  • $1.3 million for PPE/sanitation/cleaning;
  • $2.2 million for emergency response;
  • $2 million for future COVID-19 resurgence preparation;
  • $4 million for public safety; and
  • $3.8 million for unallocated funds remaining.

The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, creating the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which provided $150 billion in direct federal assistance to domestic governments, of which, Arizona received $1.8 billion for distribution to municipalities with populations under 500,000.

On May 27, Gov. Doug Ducey announced the creation of the AZCares Fund, which consisted of approximately $441 million of the state-received CARES Act.

Scottsdale officials first discussed how to use the AZCares Fund monies in June.

City Manager Jim Thompson has been leading the charge on allocating the CARES Funds.

On July 1, he provided a brief overview of how the money would be categorized; there was little discussion from the City Council members on the topic.

During the June City Council meeting on the allocation, the City Council called for specific information on how the money would be used. Since then, Mr. Thompson has outlined a number of ways to spend the money.

Mr. Thompson pointed out that within each category for funds, the money is broken down further to depict specific uses.

The $3 million for vulnerable citizens will be broken down to include $823,000 for homeless programs; $812,000 for senior programs; and $1,365,000 for low-income programs.

The $3,110,000 for community facilities safety upgrades will address 18 community areas that support large gatherings of visitors and residents, a city staff report states.

Event venues include the multi-purpose room at Scottsdale Stadium, while buildings intended to attract large numbers of visitors include two of the city’s museums.

“Each of these categories involve physical modifications to city buildings designed to limit the possibility of spread of the COVID virus,” the staff report states. “These technologies are not new, all are widely used often in hospital settings to limit the spread of various pathogens.”

The staff report states there are two basic approaches:

  • Modifications that disinfect volumes of air, limiting airborne transmission of the virus; and
  • Modifications that limit the need for building occupants to physically-touch doors, restroom fixtures and other surfaces.

Arts and culture programs will use $1.5 million for a one-time relief program available to 15 non-profit arts and culture Scottsdale-based organizations.

The Scottsdale organizations identified in the city staff report include: Arizona Musicfest; Cattle Track Arts and Preservation: Desert Stages Theatre; Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation/Taliesin West; Greasepaint Theatre; Parada del Sol Rodeo Museum; Scottsdale Arts; and the Scottsdale Philharmonic.

The category titled “Public Health Communication” will use $100,000 to develop a communication program to support healthy practices and actions among local residents, businesses and visitors, using elements to include paid advertisement, vehicle signage, banners and social media messaging.

A business assistance program has been earmarked for $5 million.

The city staff report outlines a number of programs and resources to assist the business community, stating that there are programs readily available and proposed for now and phase 2.

These programs include: Federal Assistance Programs; Local Partnership Business Assistance: Municipal Business Assistance; Immediate and Critical Business Support Initiatives.

Municipal regulatory relief gives eight examples of ways to help Scottsdale proprietors including, relief from outdoor dining license agreement payments during business closure; relief from in-lieu parking lease payments during the business closure; and extending building permits that would have expired during the pandemic.

City building safety retrofits for $2,200,000 will upgrade 14 city buildings that house large numbers of city employees with similar technology and safety features as community facilities.

These buildings include the City Hall Kiva, One civic Center, and the North Corporation Yard; some public safety facilities including the police and fire headquarters; city courts; the Aviation offices; and the Scottsdale Water facilities.

The remaining four categories have been left open-ended.

PPE, sanitation and cleaning for $1,340,000 allows for supplies and equipment for cleaning and sanitizing city facilities and work areas exposed to public and employees.

Emergency response for $2,200,000 is to be used for overtime for existing personnel, equipment, supplies and testing/monitoring if needed.

Future COVID resurgence for $2 million will be used for preparation and response for necessary overtime for existing personnel, equipment, supplies and testing/monitoring as needed upon resurgence.

Lastly, public safety funds of $4 million will be used for funding existing personnel and programs, the city staff report states.

Prior to the vote, many of the City Councilmembers voiced their appreciation and thanks to members of the city staff for their work on this item.

“I really want to again thank staff, this has been a very trying time and I appreciate taking all of the input that we gave in the work study session,” Vice Mayor Solange Whitehead said.

“Will we have more detail as you refine how you’ll use the money --- will you keep us in the loop?”

Mr. Thompson confirmed he would keep the council in the loop.

Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp called Scottsdale’s CARES Act funds a “well-thought-out program.”

Councilwomen Virginia Korte, Kathy Littlefield and Linda Milhaven echoed their colleagues, thanking staff for their great work.

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