Divvying up American Rescue Plan Act funding became the focus of the Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday.
Supervisors voted unanimously to allocate $222,397 of the federal funding toward goals in the Carson City Housing Plan. That plan aims to help homeless individuals transition to independent living. Three organizations were awarded funding Thursday:
• The Ron Wood Family Resource Center will receive $16,127 for a program to help homeless people in the community obtain important documentation, like driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
• Nights Off The Street Inc., will receive $148,770 for a full-time manager for its temporary overnight shelter, which runs from November through March. NOTS involves 12 local churches and hundreds of volunteers.
• Saint Teresa of Avila Conferences/Saint Vincent de Paul Society will receive $57,500 to provide transportation to reunite homeless individuals with family members who have agreed to provide shelter.
Not awarded Thursday was a proposal from Carson City Community Counseling Center that initially requested $446,760. That proposal called for 12 homeless individuals a year to enter a comprehensive program with temporary housing and life skills training. Representatives of Community Counseling Center weren’t at the hearing, and supervisors felt they had too many questions about the cost of the program.
“As we sat and broadly allocated money, I was hoping for a clearer path,” said Supervisor Stacey Giomi.
Giomi said there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, but he expressed confidence in the three groups receiving funds. He noted Nights Off The Street “probably has the best handle right now on our homeless population.”
“I was humbled by the complexity of this problem,” Giomi said.
Supervisor Lisa Schuette lauded the nonprofit groups and emphasized homeless individuals need help getting on their feet.
“They don’t have bootstraps to pull up,” she said.
Other projects in need of funding were discussed. Supervisor Curtis Horton pointed to a new fire station and emergency operations center as a priority.
“We need to make sure this project happens,” he said.
Originally, $1.16 million was set aside for the housing plan. After Thursday’s vote, $938,017 of that was rolled over into undesignated ARPA funds. After the awards for the housing plan, supervisors voted unanimously to reallocate $2.4 million in ARPA funding for the aforementioned fire station and emergency operations center.
In the design stage, the new station includes a backup dispatch center and information technology offices. However, the project faced a $2.9 million shortfall because of rising construction costs. Original estimates were for $650 per square foot, but that number has risen to $900 per square foot. The total project cost is now estimated to be $17.5 million, according to a staff report.
The money reallocated to the project stems from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, a $350 billion chunk of ARPA designed to assist state and local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2022, the U.S. Department of Treasury eased restrictions on SLFRF.
“The final rule delivers broader flexibility and greater simplicity in the program,” said Treasury documents guiding communities on use of funds.
Part of the final rule on SLFRF was a standard allowance of up to $10 million for government services, meaning dollars could be directed to governmental needs like facilities.
Even after the housing plan awards and the $2.4 million reallocation for the fire station, Carson City has $841,601 remaining in undesignated ARPA funds. Additionally, supervisors appropriated $500,000 from the city Ambulance Fund for the new fire station.
“It will meet our needs right now,” Carson City Fire Chief Sean Slamon said of the new station.
Slamon noted all fire stations in the city are at capacity. He said the city has not added a new station since 1973. Because of rising construction costs, planners of the new facility had to nix additional rooms and storage bays. However, design will allow additions to the facility in the future, Slamon said.
Supervisors also amended a contract with TSK Architects – an additional $1 million, roughly – to provide schematics for the project and construction services administration.
In other action:
• Supervisors tabled a proposed zoning change for the old Carson Tahoe Hospital site at 775 Fleischmann Way.
Planning staff will return at a future meeting with options for the site. Current zoning is public regional, but the site is no longer publicly owned. In December, planning commissioners recommended residential office zoning to keep compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods.
Supervisors, however, didn’t want to create a nonconforming use. They discussed making the site public community zoning in the future or adding hospitals as approved uses to the residential office zoning district.
Planning Manager Heather Ferris said the current buildings on the property are used for outpatient services, a mental health hospital and a continuing care center.
“We don’t know what the future holds for this site,” she said.
Supervisors also approved the annual Master Plan report as vetted by planning commissioners in December. An update to the Carson City Master Plan is expected to begin in 2024.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Community Development Director Hope Sullivan said.
• As part of the consent agenda, supervisors approved appointing Ellen Dechristopher and Vern Krahn to the Planning Commission for four-year terms.
According to city policy, each supervisor gets one recommendation of appointment to the advisory board to coincide with their own term. Dechristopher was Giomi’s recommendation, and Krahn was Horton’s recommendation. Both appointees are Carson City residents.
Dechristopher comes from a background in communications and commercial development working with motorcycle and auto dealerships.
“I view the downtown revitalization as our community’s lifeline following completion of the 580 bypass, and perhaps even more so following the pandemic,” Dechristopher said in the application for the commission. “Community has never been more important, and our downtown area with its fresh face and gathering spots has proven to be a destination point for residents and visitors alike.”
Krahn has experience with landscape architecture and worked as a park planner for Carson City before retiring.
“I want to live in a multigenerational community that provides high-paying/diverse job opportunities for both professional and blue collar workers, a great ‘quality of life’ with good parks, trails, and open space, small but strong and unique retail opportunities, amazing schools (public and private), including an expanded WNC, an architecturally amazing ‘built environment,’ and a friendly and welcoming community to live, work, play, and raise a family,” Krahn said in the application for the commission.
Supervisors also approved appointing Laura Chavez to the Audit Committee for a partial term ending in December.