Aurora, CO

Aurora postpones votes on American Rescue Plan Act grants

David Heitz

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Aurora City Councilmember Curtis Gardner said Monday he fears some ARPA funds would have been inappropriately spent.Photo byAuroraTV.org

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Aurora, Colo.)

The Aurora City Council on Monday postponed voting on more than 20 American Rescue Plan Act grants.

Councilmember Curtis Gardner made the motion to delay the vote until after a City Council committee meeting in January. Mayor Pro Tem Francoise Bergan seconded the motion. Only Councilmember Crystal Murillo voted against the motion.

Councilmembers Bergan and Gardner said they had concerns about where some of the grants were going. They initially were hesitant to discuss their concerns. But Gardner later said one grant would have installed a bathroom in a personal residence. He did not list the name of the non-profit.

According to the city clerk, eight people signed up to speak on behalf of the East Colfax Community Collective. Mayor Mike Coffman apologized to those who took time out Monday to speak. He suggested they use the extra time to make their case with the city.

Councilmembers Murillo, Alison Coombs and Juan Marcano suggested the council vote on the grants for which the council has no questions and delay the rest. Gardner said he did not believe the city had done its due diligence in vetting the applicants and had lost confidence in the process.

A representative of the City Attorney’s Office said a company called Clifton Larson pre-vetted all the applicants. Bergan expressed dissatisfaction with the process saying some non-profits did not even list budgets for projects.

Councilmembers want accountability

When Aurora grants money to local non-profits, they expect their community partners to be accountable for how their funds are used.

Several council members expressed a desire at the Nov. 21 study session to hear reports from non-profits who received youth violence prevention grants from the city earlier this year. They expect a report from city staff by the end of the year.

On Monday, the council was set to award $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act grants. The following agencies, if approved, would have received the grants.

· Metro Community Provider Network

· Aurora Public Schools Foundation

· Rocky Mountain Welcome Center

· Caring Voices

· Colorado Alliance for Health Equity and Practice

· Mi Casa Resource Center

· RISE Colorado

· East Colfax Community Collective

· Rocky Mountain Youth Medical and Nursing Consultants

· A Little Help

· New American College

· Brothers Redevelopment Inc

· Mosaic Unlimited Inc

· Tigray Ethiopian Community Association in Colorado

· African Chamber of Commerce Colorado USA

· Aurora Community Connection

· You be You Early Learning

· Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado

· ARPA Interchurch Task Force Inc.

· DAWN

· Community Enterprise Development Services

· Downtown Aurora Visual Arts

· Issues of Life Church Ministries Aurora

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

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