Commission Proposes Transferring Relief for Tamarac Residents

By Saraana Jamraj

With the CARES Act, the federal government offered some financial relief to people around the country; however, Tamarac Commissioner Mike Gelin pointed out that it could not nor did not help everyone.

At Wednesday’s city commission meeting, Gelin, who represents the Woodlands, proposed that $250,000 be moved from the city’s emergency reserves to a relief and assistance fund for Tamarac residents, many of whom were left out of relief from the federal government.

“The problem [with the current assistance programs] is that the requirements don’t fall in line with reality.”

He cited the rising local unemployment rate, as well as rising unemployment locally, and how it disproportionately affects poorer residents.

“Based on some credible news sources, approximately 13 percent of the people who make 100,000 dollars or more a year have been laid off, but close to 40 percent of the people that make 45,000 dollars or less have lost their jobs,” said Gelin.

Because of the urgent need for relief, Gelin proposed that Tamarac offered its own residents’ additional assistance with less stringent qualifications.

Tamarac has an emergency reserve of over $10 million which is used during crises, such as floods or hurricanes. Gelin believes this unprecedented situation qualifies as an emergency.

“I don’t think it hurts to pull out $250,000 to help support some of our residents who may be in need,” said Gelin.

City Manager Michael Cernech confirmed that the money is available, but voiced concerns over the implementation of such programs.

“The money is available in reserves, to create a program, as described. The only challenge that I see is creating a process for the equal and equitable distribution of the funds,” said Cernech.

If the commission was up to coming up with the parameters for such a program, they could possibly move forward, Cernech said.

Mayor Michelle Gomez and Commissioner Debra Placko agreed with the city manager.

“We can never do enough for our residents. I certainly get that. I have no problem entertaining this, but I’d need some guidelines,” said Placko.

Vice Mayor Bolton stressed the urgency of the matter and motioned for the staff to produce a complete package and guidelines on how to move the funds by the next meeting.

The commissioners and city manager agreed that urgency was required and that even if the timeframe were too short, they would just be able to push it to the next meeting.

“I think we’ll be able to give you a progress report next week,” said Cernech.

They voted unanimously in favor of Bolton’s motion, 5-0, and may vote on moving the funds as soon as June 10.

“Our residents are directly impacted [by this crisis].  Some of them have reached out to me directly and as their representative, I need to respond,” said Gelin.

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