Senior commission discusses American Rescue Plan funding, leadership shifts

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The Winters Senior Commission on Aging discussed several items at their meeting on June 9, some related to updates on the Winters Senior Center. 

City manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa said the city’s goal for the senior center is to prepare the bid package by August because that’s when Dan Maguire — the city’s former economic and development program manager who’s working on special projects for the city, including the senior center — will head to Italy and the city will lose his assistance. 

Trepa also said the city’s new draft housing element, an aspect of a city’s general plan which describes housing needs,  is now available for public comment until June 30. The housing element, she said, includes a lot of information associated with housing needs for seniors, low income and disabled residents.

The housing element, she said, will be discussed at the city’s upcoming June planning commission meeting — a consultant will present the housing element, there will be time for questions and answers, and residents will be able to provide feedback. 

Trepa also talked briefly about waste management discounts for seniors, which she said don’t exist but that waste management offers different rates based on the trash can size that they dispose of. 

At the request of the commission, Trepa detailed how funding the city’s receiving from the American Rescue Plan will work. She said the city is going to receive about $1.8 million from the plan — Yolo County will receive $40 million — and the local public agencies have been discussing how to allocate the ARP funds. Trepa said that, because the funds need to be expended by the end of 2026, the Winters City Council agreed that the funds should be invested in transformational projects that would be able to create recurring revenue that would help with the city budget. 

“As we’ve shared with the community and shared with the city council, the city for many years has been in a structural deficit and so part of the goal of using this money is to help with the economic recovery of the community and to make sure that we’re investing the funds in a way that helps do that,” Trepa said. 

Trepa added that some ARP funds have been specifically designated for capital improvement projects related to water, sewer and broadband. She said city staff will develop a list of projects over the coming months, with community input, to bring back to the city council. The funds will ultimately need to be allocated by the city council, she said, and she and finance directory Shelly Gunby have been working to create an application form so the city can begin to gather input on how people would like to spend the money. 

Commission leadership 

The commission also discussed changing leadership around, with chair Debra Palmer’s term naturally ending, but ultimately voted to push any decisions off until the commission’s July meeting. 

Several of the commissioners were nominated for the chair position at the meeting but most declined; Cheryl Sandoval talked about the possibility of taking on the role, but also said it would be a good idea to first review the chairperson role and expectations of that role. 

Trepa said part of the issue is that participation on Zoom over the past year has been done relatively informally. The chair, she said, is responsible for running the meeting — calling it to order, organizing it and making sure commissioners are following Brown Act protocols. The vice chair, Trepa said, is responsible for standing in if the chair isn’t able to attend. 

The senior commission is also different from others, Trepa said, because the city doesn’t have staff assigned to seniors or to help support the commission. Trepa added that it’s likely possible to split roles in such a way that someone is focused on the operations of the commission while somebody else focuses on running the meetings.

The item was tabled unanimously so the commission members could think about it. 

Trepa also said the city is currently struggling with trying to figure out hybrid meetings, involving both in-person and remote participants. She asked that the commission continue meeting remotely for now via Zoom, and the city will let them know once the hybrid option is working.

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