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Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Yucca Valley Town Council Swipe Charity CDBG Funds

By   /   March 2, 2011  /   2 Comments

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KA-CHING! KA-CHING! Yucca Valley Town Council votes to pay Code Enforcement salary/benefits with Community Block Grant Funds (CDBG) intended for assisting local non-profit charities.

Yucca Valley, Ca.-The  Town of Yucca Valley is trying to increase their revenue in order to keep all the balls in the air with the current budget crunch and increasing pension fund demands for their employees. While other State and Citiy employees are taking a 10% across the board reduction in pay, and/or furloughs, our past exiting Town Manager, Andy Takata, gave all the Town employees a 2% wage increase as his parting gift in February 2010. His Valentine Gift to the Town put our prudent financial advisor, Curtis Yakimow, in an uncomfortable position of having to deal with the aftermath of that gift in perpetuity.

The last proposal to increase revenues by Mark Nuaimi, current Yucca Valley Town Manager, was to charge an additional $100 fee for impounded vehicles. Or, as Gary Daigneault called it on his radio talk show, “piling on fees.” According to the Staff report, the reason behind this additional fee is to “recuperate the hourly pay to our law enforcement agency for this process.” Excuse me, isn’t that their job?

Where did this figure of $100 fee come from? No one knows…..perhaps Colton or Fontana? Nuaimi was the deputy Town Manager for Colton and at the same time Mayor of Fontana prior to being hired by our Yucca Valley Town Council. Perhaps they charge that amount in those cities? The City of Twentynine Palms only charges $48.00 and they employ the same San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.

All the Yucca Valley Councilmembers voted in favor of this additional impound charge. Isaac Hagerman even called in to the local talk show last week trying to justify why he voted yes for this new fee. Daigneault wasn’t buying it.

At the Town Council meeting last evening, Yucca Valley Staff went “Treasure Hunting” and offered up more than chump change to supplement their budget.  This time they shifted over $126,000.00 from the Community Development Block Grants, usually distributed to non-profits,  to their Code Enforcement payroll/benefit column because it is legal.

“Besides,”, said Neil Derry, 3rd District Supervisor by telephone yesterday afternoon, “this is how San Bernardino pays for their code enforcement.”

It may be legal, but is it right?

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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

2 Comments

  1. Mark Nuaimi Mark Nuaimi says:

    CDBG funds are not "usually distributed to non-profits" ... that might have been past practice in the Town but that is atypical for most CDBG funding. Typically cities / counties use the CDBG funds (taxpayer resources) to deliver projects or services that benefit targeted census tracts (low income neighborhoods). Some agencies choose to partner with non-profits in some cases. But most agencies use it to complement the funding being invested by the General Fund.

    This should not have come as a surprise either. At the Strategic Planning workshop, we had a separate session discussing the CDBG funding issue and the fact that prior funds allocated to a playground improvement at Town Hall were going to likely become available later in the year as funding shifted from other projects. I even surveyed the council and audience asking where the Town should invest those residual CDBG funds. You might even recall that during discussions with the Council that day I recommended that the funding be used to cover the costs for Code Enforcement this coming year given the continued reduction in revenues. Council expressed support but DID NOT WANT to make this a permanent shift in allocation of CDBD funding to Code Enforcement.

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  2. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your comment.

    In Yucca Valley, CDBG funds were "usually distributed to non-profits" because we are an extremly disadvantaged community and rarely receive any other outside grants. Honestly, I don't really care how other agencies "typically use" their CDBG Funds.

    While other cities/towns were receiving $100,000's from the Stimulus Fund program, we did not. I brought this up several times at previous Town Council meetings and the only one that "got it" was Chad Mayes. Perhaps we were not "shovel ready" for larger funds but we did have a Senior Center Lunch Program in place that could have received Stimulus Funds as did other neighboring towns who had a higher income per capita.

    The Yucca Valley non-profits that were previously funded with CDBG Funds are currently in the trenches with our most vulnerable citizens. Not only do these non-profit applicants provide service to the low income, they were required to provide numbers served before being approved for these funds.

    This network is labor intensive and in the long run, saves money for the Town of Yucca Valley. I invite you to "ride along" with Reach Out Morongo Basin who helps citizens that fall between the cracks. I invite you to sit with our seniors at the Adult Center in the therapy pool and own Staff should be required to eat two meals a month at our Senior Center. Most of these organizations are manned by volunteers and the Executive Directors/Staff receive minimum wages without benefits.

    Perhaps it is loophole to scoot these CDBG Funds used by other counties to pay the salary/benefits of a Code Enforcement officer to "patrol the low income area." Seems a stretch to me.

    Just because it is legal to do so, does not make it a right thing to do for those agencies helping our vulnerable citizens.

    I wish you well when you deal with the looming bloated pensions that will strain this town's resources. Good luck.

    PS. As I recall, you did all the talking at the Planning workshop. If you found another source of revenue to fund the third and final leg of the Community Zero-depth Splash pad, then these CDBG funds were not "residual" or found and should have been used to help the community.

    Once you have placed CDBG Funds into paying Town employee salaries, it will never be used otherwise. Human nature.

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