RICHMOND -- The City Council this week approved $1.4 million in funding for community services and other programs in North Richmond.
The money, derived from transfer fees on waste at the nearby West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill, is marked for the community annually to offset the effects from the waste facility.
Major beneficiaries of the funds include the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, county code enforcement and a host of nonprofit community groups. Most of North Richmond is located in unincorporated county territory and the funding plan must be approved by the city and county Board of Supervisors.
Some community members in North Richmond, a low-income neighborhood of about 4,000 people, have complained in recent years that too much of the money is used to subsidize additional sheriff's patrols.
"I don't think there is enough allocated for the North Richmond programs," said resident Eleanor Thompson. "Next time, let's fight a little bit harder for the community to get more funding." The council vote was unanimous.
According to city staff reports, the finalized budget plan for 2012-13 calls for about $450,000 for sheriff's and code enforcement programs, as well as surveillance cameras. North Richmond has long been a magnet for illegal dumping, contributing to community blight, and has been plagued by higher crime rates than the rest of the city.
More than $550,000 is allocated in the new budget for parks rehabilitation, community gardening and several community-based education programs to be run by private nonprofits.
In July 2004, Richmond and Contra Costa County agreed to jointly administer the mitigation funds. The fee structure was established as compensation for building a new transfer station at the landfill site, which reached capacity and closed in 2006, according to city staff reports.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the council had to weigh competing concerns in allocating the funds.
"It's certainly my vision to get as much focus on the community-based projects as possible," McLaughlin said. "But we do have people who want some law enforcement funding as well."