City council was updated on the status of the CARES Act and other COVID-19 related expenditures at Aug. 3’s City Council Meeting.
Finance Director Jay Schengel told the council that the state had given the city $1.47 million from the CARES Act, but the expenditures from the city surpassed that amount. From March to December it is projected for the city to spend $2.41 million.
Schengel broke it down by department with the Fire Department projected to spend $1,509,000 in COVID-19 related calls, the Police Department $424,000, city personnel $315,000 and EOC Deployment will spend $166,000.
Along with other programs expenses the city is projected to spend about $3 million on COVID-19 expenditures. However, the city will only be reimbursed about $2 million, leaving the city with a deficit of about $900,000.
Councilmember Ashbeck asked Schengel if the County of Fresno had any money that the city could use to cover the deficit. Schengel said that it was up to the county to use that money as they see fit, but that in the future the county might work with the city on the deficit. Schengel also mentioned that there is money being sent to the Central Valley from the state and that the city might see some of that money.
City Manager Luke Serpa gave an update about the number of cases of COVID-19 in the City of Clovis. Serpa said that Clovis is now the third city with more COVID-19 infections in the county and the month of July saw the biggest spike in infections for the city. As of July 25, there were 153 new COVID-19 cases in the City of Clovis.
After the update, Councilmember Ashbeck stated her disagreement with Mayor Bessinger’s role in Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld’s press conference. Bredefeld held a press conference last Thursday calling on the schools to reopen and Mayor Bessinger was one of the speakers.
“As an individual council member you represented me and all of us,” Ashbeck said. “That press conference was in direct opposition in everything I thought we believed in.”
Councilmember Ashbeck asked to have a workshop on council norms when they all come back from summer break.
Councilmember Mouanoutoua said that he doesn’t mind having a workshop and that talking about those norms is good, but he also supported the Mayor’s position on going to that press conference.
Mayor Bessinger said that he didn’t think the press conference was going to be the event it turned out to be. Bessinger also said that during the press conference his words were very tempered and that opening schools needs to be done in a safe manner and in conjunction with the health department. Bessinger mentioned he had conversations with people who are desperate because their children are falling behind and that distance learning is not working for them.
“We don’t always have to agree with what we say, I think that my comments were extremely measured,” Bessinger said. “I certainly don’t want to upset any of my peers, but there’s going to be times that as an individual I’m going to speak my mind.”