Marin County plans to hold an election later this year to decide how to spend half of the $ 5 million it has pledged to spend on racial equity projects in 2022.
“I am delighted to present this to your board of directors to involve the county in this type of community development and put trust in the hands of our community members,” Deputy County Administrator Angela Nicholson said on Tuesday, to supervisors.
The $ 5 million the county has earmarked for racial equity projects in 2022 will come from the $ 50.2 million the county expects to receive under the US bailout act 1, $ 9 trillion from President Joe Biden.
Nicholson said half of the $ 5 million will go to funding community-initiated projects, and the remaining $ 2.5 million will go to equity efforts initiated by the county department with particular emphasis on equity projects in low income communities.
Nicholson said applications for funding for community-initiated projects would be accepted by the county in February or March. She said applicants will need to be nonprofit organizations recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt or in partnership with such an organization to be eligible to receive funds.
A fundraising committee will sort the applications received. The county will nominate nine residents to sit on the fundraising committee.
In late spring or early summer, the county plans to allow Marin residents to vote on the applications that will receive a share of the $ 2.5 million.
“In order to do the engagement well, we don’t want to just have the vote on a computer system,” Nicholson said. “We will probably set up voting in each of the five districts as well, for people who do not have access to an online system.”
Nicholson said details such as who would conduct the election, how voter eligibility would be verified and how much the process would cost are still being worked out. She said she envisioned the election being conducted by a non-profit organization, not the county election department.
Registrar of Electors Lynda Roberts said the minimum cost for a special election conducted by her department is $ 10 per voter.
County departments will request a share of the $ 2.5 million to be spent internally as part of the county’s normal budgeting process.
Nicholson said that for community-initiated projects and ministry-initiated projects, the focus will be on spending the money in low-income communities. She said census tracts ranked below the 70th percentile of the Healthy Places Index will be targeted.
The Healthy Places Index, developed by the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, ranks the health of communities based on eight factors: economic, education, transportation, social, neighborhood, housing, clean environment, and access to health care.
Nicholson said most communities in Marin rank above the 90th percentile, but five or six of the county’s census tracts fall below the 70th percentile.
The census tract that covers Marin City, where Marin’s largest concentration of African-American residents live, has healthier community conditions than 35% of other California census tracts, while an area in the San Rafael Canal, where 89% of residents are Latinos, was ranked in the 25th percentile.
Nicholson said no more than 10% of the $ 2.5 million allocated to projects initiated by the ministry would be spent on speakers or training. She said the county would use the money earmarked for its equity office to continue bringing in speakers and conducting training.
Nicholson also announced Tuesday that the county has hired a new equity manager to replace Anyania Muse, who left to join the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in April. The new hire is Jamillah Jordan, who worked as a planner and project manager for MIG, a Berkeley-based consulting firm specializing in town planning, land use planning and community engagement.
Jordan holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California at Los Angeles and has received a Health Culture Fellowship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Jordan will be paid an annual salary of $ 156,728.
Supervisor Katie Rice noted that the $ 5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds “are not the only money we spend on equity efforts.”
“We try to apply a fairness lens to everything this county does,” she said.
In May, Marin’s Department of Health and Human Services hired its own equity officer, Elyse Rainey.
Nicholson said the county’s External Racial Equity Planning Committee, a group of 20 residents reviewing the county’s 2017 Racial Equity Action Plan, is close to finalizing recommendations for spending the $ 1, $ 7 million remaining of the $ 2.7 million allocated to racial equity projects in fiscal year 2020-21. The money originally proposed for the sheriff’s department budget was $ 1.7 million of the $ 2.7 million.
Commenting at the supervisors meeting, Damian Morgan, chairman of the Marin City Community Services District board of directors, challenged the composition of the external racial equity planning committee.
“There isn’t a single person who lives in Marin City on this committee,” Morgan said. “It speaks to the hostility the county has had and continues to display with Marin City – hostility, racism at its best.”