GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
Council members gathered in a special meeting Wednesday, March 25th at 6 pm at City Hall to hear an emergency ordinance helping some Grand Junction residents get back to work.
This city ordinance would pull $4.4 million out of the city’s general fund reserve to add 400 temporary workers to help their families as well as the economy of Grand Junction. Diane Schwenke with the Chamber of Commerce says, “Even putting 20, 30, 40 people to work, 20 hours a week helps them, helps their self-esteem, and help turns the economy.”
Some areas of work for temporary employees include:
-Storm water infrastructure maintenance
-Sidewalk repair and maintenance
-Landscape maintenance, planting, nursery operations, turj and field maintenance
-Painting (buildings, fences, signposts) and other maintenance of City facilities
-Riverfront cleanup and maintenance
The city knows there’s a huge problem for unemployed Grand Junction families, but the biggest problem is finding a solution in these uncertain times, especially after the announcement of Governor Polis’s new Stay at Home order. “We’re swimming upstream in terms of the Governor’s Executive Order that came down around 4 o’clock as well. I’ve already been getting emails and texts asking what we’re going to do next”, says Schwenke.
What started as $4.4 million for 400 workers soon came down to half of both during deliberations. According to time estimates from the council, this new ordinance would take effect 60 days from April 15th. The temporary worker would be paid $15 per hour and employed by the Temp Agency. A unanimous vote is needed to pass an emergency ordinance, and the ordinance requires two reviews. The vote came down to six to one, and the one that said nay is Council Member Anna Stout. “My vote tonight came down to the fact that as much as I believe we need to get people back to work, I don’t believe that taking 15% of our reserves and committing them to a 3 month project when we don’t know what’s coming”, says Stout.
Council Member Stout thinks the money will be better spent within the gaps in healthcare and the gaps yet to be seen. Stout says, “If we’re going to hire people to give them work let’s put them in the areas with the greatest need. At this point, there’s no question that our healthcare industry, health and human services, and non-profits are going to be the hardest hit, and they’re going to need the most support when it comes to being able to meet the workforce demands right now that meet the demand for services.”