Funding priorities for mitigation fee revenue to remain largely unchanged

Mitigation Committee members Jovanka Beckles, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Dr. Henry Clark, Joe Wallace, and Johnny White listen to public comments at Friday's meeting.

Mitigation Committee members Jovanka Beckles, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Dr. Henry Clark, Joe Wallace, and Johnny White listen to public comments at Friday's meeting.

North Richmond’s share of landfill mitigation funding for 2012-2013 is likely to be doled out in proportions roughly similar to previous years, the mitigation committee suggested in a meeting last Friday.

County leaders offered an early glimpse at an expenditure plan that would provide the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the community with an estimated $1.13 million over two years. The North Richmond Waste and Recovery Mitigation Fee Joint Expenditure Planning Committee administers these funds, and the Friday meeting was its first opportunity to plan how this money would be spent for the 2012-2013 cycle.

A large percentage of the money would be used to subsidize county Sheriff’s patrols and code enforcement work. The remaining money will go toward prevention and education, and community investment projects, including sizeable grants given to North Richmond residents. While the funding for enforcement and community investment are similar—45 percent and 41 percent of the 2010-2011 budget—Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who is on the committee, requested that the percentages be swapped for the 2012-2013 budget, citing a need to “keep money in North Richmond.”

The mitigation committee was formed in 2006 for the purpose of preparing two-year budget plans using money collected solely from a fee assessed on the operator of the Bulk Materials Processing Center at the West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill. The landfill operator pays this fee on every ton of waste that is processed as a way of mitigating the landfill’s potential environmental impact.

While the five committee members present were largely in agreement on most budget items, committee member Joe Wallace took particular issue with the salary of a community services coordinator position that is responsible for implementing many of the community investment projects.

“I’d feel much better if this person came from the heart of North Richmond instead of county side,” Wallace said. “That is too much money. I’m just saying the salary is too high.”

The committee also picked a new committee chair for the next cycle. Richmond City Councilmember Nat Bates, who was absent, has served in that position since the committee was first formed—a few months shy of three cycles—even though there is a two-cycle limit. McLaughlin nominated Dr. Henry Clark, current vice chair of the committee. The nomination received unanimous approval.

The committee will meet again on Oct. 21 to finalize the specific dollar amounts they want appropriated to the various projects for the 2012-2013 cycle. The final expenditure plan will then need to be approved by the Richmond City Council and Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors before the new year to ensure continuity of funding.

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