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Citrus Heights Messenger

Council Awards Funds to Local Neighborhoods and Groups

May 01, 2024 08:48AM ● By Shaunna Boyd

A previous Community Projects Grant recipient, Citrus Heights Art. Photo courtesy of the City of Citrus Heights

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - At the April 25 meeting, the Citrus Heights City Council considered several applications for the Neighborhood Improvement Partnership (NIP) Fund, which is intended to support activities that increase community engagement at the neighborhood level.

One request was from Sunrise Ranch (Area 6), which requested $2,908.01 to replace welcome signs in their neighborhood. The other two requests, from Area 3 and Area 4, were for $1,800 each to cover the cost of attending the Neighborhood USA (NUSA) conference being held in May in Lubbock, Texas.

Community members join the Economic Development & Community Engagement Department for office hours regarding the Community Projects Grant in March. Photo courtesy of the City of Citrus Heights

At the April 11 meeting, Council considered similar funding requests for NUSA attendance, and at that time Vice Mayor Jayna Karpinski-Costa requested stricter guidelines be implemented for NIP eligibility. Economic Development and Community Engagement Director Meghan Huber said that staff is drafting potential amendments, which will come to Council for consideration at a future meeting. Staff evaluated the current requests and found all three meet the existing eligibility criteria for NIP funding.

Approval of the three requests would total $6,508.01, leaving $2,391.99 in NIP funding available through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2024.

During Public Comment, the Area 4 representative, John Kane, addressed the Council. He explained that he is in the process of resurrecting the Area 4 neighborhood group, and he thought attending the conference would help him find ways to increase interest and engagement in his neighborhood.

Vice Mayor Karpinski-Costa felt that using the funding for conference attendance would reduce the amount of money available for neighborhood projects. In particular, she mentioned a bench project her neighborhood group is working on, but due to various delays, they have been unable to submit an application at this time. The vice mayor also said that the presentations scheduled at this year’s NUSA conference would focus on tips for established neighborhood groups, not for getting a neighborhood group started.

Kane said that the goal was to “simply be more effective in my community.”

Councilmember Tim Schaefer said NUSA is a “great reflection of what a neighborhood can be,” providing examples of positive neighborhood engagement. “It’s an eye-opening experience.” Schaefer said attending the conference provides many opportunities to discover new ways to get people involved. 

Councilmember Porsche Middleton said to Kane, “I think it’s great that you want to go. I believe that in order for you to tell a story to your neighbors, in order to say, ‘This is what we can be’…you have to have some ideas.” She said he could talk to other attendees who have gone through similar struggles to get a neighborhood group started, and he can bring that passion to Citrus Heights to enhance the community.

Councilmember Schaefer added that after these requests there would still be more than $2,000 available for other projects before the end of June, and starting in July there would be a whole new pot of money available for the next fiscal year.

Council unanimously approved the request for Area 6’s new signs. NUSA attendance for Area 3 was approved 4-1, with Vice Mayor Karpinski-Costa dissenting, because she said that member attended the conference last year with NIP funding. NUSA attendance for John Kane from Area 4 was approved 5-0, with Karpinski-Costa saying she was “swayed to yes.”

The Council also considered allocations for the second round of the Citrus Heights Community Projects Grant Program, which was first launched in March 2023 with funding from the City’s federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) award. In the first round, funding went to the Citrus Heights Women’s Club, Citrus Heights Arts, Junior Achievement of Sacramento, Royal Stage, and Sunrise Christian Food Ministry.

This is the second round of allocations for the program for the 2022/2023 fiscal year, which ends this June. The program was open to any nonprofit, community group, or organization with projects or events that improve the quality of life for local residents and promote community engagement. For the second round, the City received 12 applications with a total of $249,000 in funding requests. There is $50,000 available in the fund.

Ten community groups were recommended for approval, with several of the groups actually receiving awards from other more applicable funds, for a total Round 2 award of $67,000. From the Community Projects Grant, the requests recommended for approval were Citrus Heights HART ($5,000), Empact ($5,000), Junior Achievement of Sacramento ($8,200), Kiwanis ($3,000), Purple Pageant ($8,000), International Association of Human Values ($9,800), and The Foundation Inc./The Glass Slipper ($10,000). The Healing Palette was recommended to receive $1,000 from the Community Projects Grant and an additional $2,000 from the History and Arts Grant, since they are proposing a mural project. Staff recommended two requests be awarded through the Community Support Fund: Sunrise Chrisitan Food Ministry ($10,000) and the Veterans Community Center ($5,000).

Council voted unanimously to approve the recommended awards from the Community Support Fund and the History and Arts Grant. They approved the Round 2 awards of the Community Projects Grant 4-0 (Councilmember MariJane Lopez-Taff recused herself from this vote due to a previous professional relationship with one of the applicants).

Council then considered moving their meetings from the second and fourth Thursday of each month to the second and fourth Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m. City Council meetings were originally held on Wednesdays but were moved to Thursdays in 2005 in order to obtain live broadcasting on Metro Cable’s local government affairs channel.

But staff found that Thursday evenings tend to be busier—with more community events and other regional board meetings. Those busy Thursday evenings mean that less community members are able to attend City Council meetings, and Councilmembers aren’t available to attend those other events. And some Council meetings have even had to be cancelled in the past when too many members had schedule conflicts on Thursdays.

Metro Cable advised staff that they can now provide live coverage on Wednesday evenings, with only an occasional potential conflict if an earlier meeting’s coverage ran long. And with the advance in technologies, the City in recent years has been able to live broadcast the meetings online.

Planning Commission meetings are currently held on the second and fourth Wednesdays, so moving the Council meetings would require also moving the Planning Commission meetings, to the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:00 PM—which posed no scheduling conflicts for the current Planning Commissioners.

Council unanimously approved the schedule change for City Council meetings and Planning Commission meetings. Staff will launch a public notification campaign, and the change will take effect this July.

The next meeting of the Citrus Heights City Council is scheduled for May 9.

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