City Council: Mayor questions CDBG funding for SPPD DARE Officer program

March 24, 2000
Santa Paula City Council
The continued use of Community Development Block Grant funds for the Santa Paula Police Department's DARE officer was questioned by the mayor at the March 6th City Council meeting. Mayor Rick Cook said he was “at a loss. . .I thought last year we agreed to get rid of DARE,” funding from CDBG funds, earmarked this year for $51,000. “I thought we discussed that,” he noted.City Manager Peter Cosentini said there was discussion at the 1999 CDBG funding allocation hearing and the council requested that the issue be studied to see if the cost could be absorbed by the General Fund. “I did do that and found that that sacrifice would not be justified in my mind,” so the funding was left in the CDBG request.“My point is we have a meeting and 20 people or five people stand up,” to request CDBG funding that will only stretch so far, said Cook.Vice Mayor Don Johnson said the DARE program - which encourages students to avoid drugs and gangs - costs “way beyond” the $51,000 requested, and the Santa Paula Elementary School District has been supplementing the program by supplying DARE materials at a cost of about $26,000 annually.SPPD Chief Bob Gonzales said the actual cost of DARE Officer Eddie Vasquez is about $64,000 annually for salary and equipment. “We also have the benefit of having Officer Vasquez at the department's disposal,” during school holidays when he can cover for other officers or otherwise utilized.
With the CDBG funding factored in, the cost of the officer to the city is “only a fraction. . .I've been in touch with the school districts to find alternate sources of funding,” including other grants, added Gonzales. “We're looking for alternative methods but I don't know how we could have the DARE program without the CDBG.”“Well, I want the funds to go to seniors and kids and what means the most is that this is for the kids,” said Cook.Later Cook, as well as Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa, voted no on the Community Development Block Grant funding package, which was approved by a majority of the council.

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