Los Banos to use ARPA funds for downtown gift card program


The city of Los Banos recently approved the use of $ 2.5 million in federal stimulus funds.

Los Banos City Council last week approved an allocation of $ 2.5 million in federal stimulus funding, moving forward to continue a downtown business gift card program, a program of homeless assistance and other priorities discussed in recent months.

Several priorities have emerged in the previous weeks as city officials and community members discussed how to spend Los Banos’ money from US federal bailout law.

One of these programs, called the “RAD card” program, would help local businesses with the help of matching funds from the city.

Up to $ 1 million from the Los Banos ARPA was allocated to the RAD card program and each card would have a limit of $ 100.

Other priorities described included:

  • An allocation of $ 200,000 for investment in technology and equipment for the Los Banos Police Department.
  • $ 250,000 in upgrades for city owned properties for HVAC replacement.
  • An allowance of $ 100,000 for a homelessness assistance program.
  • A $ 75,000 investment in Colorado Ball Park.

Water and wastewater infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, investments in parks, loans to small businesses, and employee COVID-19 testing were also projects city staff discussed. Wednesday, although they shouldn’t be funded with ARPA money.

About $ 9.8 million in federal stimulus was due to go to Los Banos, according to the Merced County website. City officials expect to receive the rest of this money by July 2022.

“I am delighted to see this moving forward,” said Mayor Tom Faria. “We will continue to move forward as we can. “

The “RAD Card” program, which was designed by the Downtown Modesto Partnership and funded by local donors and ARPA funds, is essentially a gift card that can only be used at participating downtown businesses. (RAD stands for Relief Across Downtown).

Rather than a physical map, the RAD map is a digital map available through the Apple App Store or Google Play. Businesses that benefit from the RAD card do not have to pay the processing fees associated with most credit cards, according to the RAD card website.

RAD card programs have been implemented in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, according to the Downtown Modesto Partnership, which initiated the programs. The organization would also help the city of Los Banos roll out its program.

“It sounds like a really good program to help our businesses, especially since they’ve struggled through the COVID time,” said Lewis, who represents District 4. “I just wanted to give an extra boost to that and I hope we can move this agenda forward. as quickly as possible so that we can reinvest in businesses that were able to resist during COVID. “

A small business loan program, also on the table Wednesday, was not unanimously supported by board members.

While there was some support for a loan program if it included clearly defined terms and conditions, some felt that a small business loan program would not be the best use of ARPA money from the community. city.

It was decided that city staff would gather more information on a potential small business loan program before city council finally moved forward.

Board members Brett Jones and Deborah Lewis said they disagreed with using federal funds for a small business loan program.

“We’re going to have a lot of problems if people find out we’re giving out free money, if we’re going down that road,” said Jones, who represents District 3. “I urge you to reconsider this before we do. let’s have a lot of staff time busy with this.

This story was originally published 22 December 2021 3:51 pm.

David H. Henry