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CALIFORNIA CITY — The City Council approved a three-year contract with a firm to assist with acquiring grants and other funding for California City’s needs.

City Manager Doug Dunford worked with Capital Advocacy Partners in his previous role at the City of Gustine in the Central Valley. Over the course of five years, the firm was successful in obtaining millions of dollars in grant and other funds for items such as a new fire engine, police officers, a water tank and water line projects, and body-worn cameras for the police department.

In addition to preparing grant applications, the firm’s contacts in the nation’s capital allow it to find appropriate opportunities and to advocate for the city.

“She has a fantastic staff that’s right there and is shoulder-to-shoulder with senators and congressmen to find out what’s going on” in Washington, Dunford said of Capital Advocacy Partners’ Dana DeBeaumont.

The contract is for $4,000 per month, plus $4,000 to $12,500 per grant application completed by the firm. The lowest grant preparation fee is for the first grant; others would be $7,500 or $12,500, depending on the size of the application.

The contract was approved on a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Nick Lessenevitch dissenting.

Prior to starting at Cal City, Dunford had already had DeBeaumont looking at potential funding opportunities through congressional earmarks in the 2022-2023 federal budget. One possibility is funding for new water lines, he said.

Other potential targets are a fire engine for the Fire Department, grants to fund police officer positions and additional infrastructure for the water and sewer system.

DeBeaumont said she specializes in working with small cities such as Cal City or Gustine, where the impact can be great.

“The small cities are kind of forgotten,” she said.

She touted the firm’s success rate, having never lost a state grant they have applied for and receiving about 90% of the federal grants.

Residents, and some on the Council, agreed that the services of a grant writer would benefit Cal City, but were wary of the cost and being locked into a three-year contract.

The contract has a 60-day cancellation clause, so the city is not locked into three years, should the deal not provide the benefits sought.

Resident Al Hutson also cautioned about grants that require extensive matching funds from the city, which can pose a problem.

The firm will likely provide access to opportunities of which the city is not aware and is worth the cost to at least try out their services, resident David Brottlund said.

Mayor Jeanie O’Laughlin her experience and experience with Dunford are in favor of approving the contract.

“I really believe this is a good use of our funds and I really think we’ll see benefit from it,” Councilmember Karen Macedonio said.

(1) comment

Mostly Me

So this is all fine and well, but because Cal City has had problems in the past with grant accountability and the like, who will be the complete overseer for all these grants? If this firm can get high dollar grants monthly, I'm not seeing much of a problem however, if these grants are sporadic throughout the year and are only for a few thousand each time, I think it would be more cost efficient to hire recently graduating accountant collage students and then send them to the numerous grant writing classes and seminars throughout the state.

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