A story from Office of Jani Hitchen, Pierce County Council, District 6.
The Pierce County Council allocated its remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds Tuesday to support area schools and youth programs and increase shelter opportunities for area homeless.
Included in the allocation was $4 million to help Pierce County schools respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will go to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to fund testing and case and contact investigation support for public and private schools.
This is one more way we can help keep communities safe and kids in school. But it is not sustainable. We must do better and get in front of this; with the Delta variant we all play a part. The data clearly shows that in communities with high vaccination rates, the number of infections and rates of hospitalizations and death are significantly lower.
Council previously allocated the majority of its first round of ARPA funding – roughly $88 million – to support ongoing pandemic needs in the community, including business support and regional public health response. The remaining balance allocated Tuesday includes:
- $5 million for hotel acquisition to offer temporary shelter space.
- $1.4 million for Economic Development’s community navigator program.
- $1.2 million for increased shelter facility space in the form of tents and tiny houses.
- $350,000 to support foreclosure prevention housing counseling services.
- $100,000 to support the First Five FUNdamentals Diaper Bank.
- $50,000 to Child Care Resources for its homeless childcare program.
- $11,000 for the Children’s Home Society youth program.
Shifting to the future – preparing the 2022-2023 Biennial Budget – because we received ARPA funds from the federal government, and we have seen record-high sales tax collections for months now, we have a healthy amount of one-time dollars to distribute as we look to craft the next two years of budget expenditures.
We also have several funds coming online for the first time, including those dedicated to helping programs that support underserved youth (PSTAA) and our new behavioral health and therapeutic courts tax.
In our first round of budget meetings, Council staff gave us an overview of departmental and other spending from the Executive’s proposed budget. Councilmembers are reviewing the proposed budget book and drafting questions. We can look at every budget allocation drafted by the Executive’s team and identify questions. It could be about a new proposed position increase, addition, title change or decrease. It could be about a program or project. It could be about where funds are coming from. The point is we get to bring to light what our community will get for spending these funds.
If you are interested in following along, reading the budget or listening to our conversations and presentations, please keep up-to-date at this site: Council Priorities and Budget
If you look or listen, and find you have a question about something, please send me a note or give me a call.
Reflections on the First 10 Months
It’s been a busy year and I want to take a minute to reflect on all we’ve accomplished as a Council since we started this journey 10 months ago. I crafted this graphic to give a snapshot at some of the actions we took as a body to improve the lives of our residents.