Column for month of May, 2022
As we look forward to recovery, the City of Scotts Valley has begun work on strategic planning. For many years, the City has kept the same four strategic goals:
- 1 Ensure long-term financial stability
- 2 Encourage business development and expand the City’s economic base
- 3 Implement operational initiatives to enhance city services
- 4 Maintain quality of life for residents
This year, with a new City Manager and as we rebuild after the pandemic, City Council has held two public study sessions to discuss how City resources should be focused in order to help meet these goals.
The City of Scotts Valley’s budget is dependent on sales tax. Scotts Valley receives a very low percentage (6 1⁄2%) of property taxes, approximately half the amount received by other jurisdictions in the County. Although local residents passed Measure Z providing an additional 1 1⁄4 % sales tax, the pandemic struck 2 weeks after passage of Measure Z. Due to health concerns, many businesses were forced to close or face a severe reduction of business. When business suffers, City finances suffer as well.
The Scotts Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force was formed to support and assist local businesses. This task force included a partnership with the City, Chamber of Commerce and local business owners. The Task Force worked to provide information and resources to local businesses like masks, sanitizer, signs and the latest CDC and CDPH guidelines for various types of businesses. Due to the work of the Economic Recovery Task Force, the community voted the Task Force the Organization of the Year at the Scotts Valley Chamber Award Gala held May 6th.
The City also formed an Economic Recovery Subcommittee led by Councilmembers Randy Johnson and Derek Timm. The City applied for and received a grant through the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus) program to provide relief to local businesses.
The City was awarded approximately $395,000 in CDBG-CV grant funding as provided by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). City Council approved a spending plan that included assigning a portion of the grant funds in support of the Boys and Girls Club’s childcare services for the 2021-22 school year, while also dedicating $250,000 in CDBG-CV funding for grants to eligible Scotts Valley businesses.
As a result of the adopted spending plan, and as approved by HCD, the City’s Economic Recovery Subcommittee undertook the role of administering the small business grant program, including designing program guidelines that aligned with all CDBG-CV and/or CARES Act rules.
The funding source included strict eligibility criteria, with an aim to support businesses that were owned by, or employed, individuals earning a low or moderate income as defined CDBG-CV criteria and other criteria. As the Subcommittee moved through the process that included more than 60 businesses expressing interest, nine eligible businesses successfully completed the process.
Scotts Valley Business Name:
Idlewild Tattoo Parlor
Irish Eyes Beauty
Limelight Home Staging Scotts Valley Veterinary Clinic The Redwood Sandwich Co. Togo’s
While these CDBG-CV grants will help some small businesses in Scotts Valley, the Economic Recovery Subcommittee recognizes that the strict rules of the grant program had a limited reach throughout the business community. Further, the Subcommittee recognized that Scotts Valley businesses will need additional support from the City as the regional economy continues to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic. This may come in many ways including exploring new/different financial support through state, federal, or other funding sources, and/or through partnerships with private corporations, non-profits, and/or academic institutions.
When the pandemic hit, the City was forced to lay off several positions including the Parks & Recreation Division. As employees retired or moved from the area, positions were left vacant due to the financial uncertainty. We recognize that staffing cuts, although necessary at the time, resulted in reduced City services and we’re working to correct that.
With community support, the work of the Economic Recovery Task Force and particularly Measure Z, we’re recovering faster than expected. City Manager LaGoe is leading much overdue investments in technology to improve efficiency in City operations, while also refilling key staff positions as finances allow.
Regarding Quality of life of Residents, in the 21/22 budget we focused on rebuilding the Police Department. Thanks to recruitment efforts of Chief Steve Walpole and staff, the Department is close to returning to fully staffed. We’ve been able to return an officer to school campuses with grant funding. Officer Pat Ahrens recently completed the DARE program in each of our local schools with over 200 students graduating.
As a result of our study sessions, staff are developing the budget for 22/23 with a greater focus on parks maintenance and improvements as we recognize our parks and open space as a great asset to our community and lifestyle. The Park Volunteer Day was a great success with much thanks to community support! Through a contract for landscaping services, the City will be able to build upon that effort to further improve the esthetics of our parks.
We’re not waiting until July when the new budget starts to address parks issues. New mulch was added to all playgrounds to make them safer and more attractive. We also submitted a request for community initiative funding to Congresswoman Eshoo to replace the playground equipment for kids 5-12 at Skypark. We received Prop 68 funds to replace the play structure for preschoolers.
We want to thank the community for the strong support for our first Community Park Clean Up Day. There is interest in rebuilding the Park Advocates as a separate 501c (3) non-profit to continue the work that organization has done. We also welcome your input on any of these topics as Scotts Valley continues to rebuild.
Feel free to contact me, Mayor Donna Lind at [email protected] or City Manager Mali LaGoe at [email protected]