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Mayor asks council to OK $300K for local level assistance

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is asking the City Council to approve the distribution of $300,000 to two groups to help combat climate change at the local level and to assist 100 low-income families over five years to access solar energy.

The City Council last year approved $300,000 as initial funding for the Verde Fund, the mayor’s initiative to “invest in programs at the nexus of Climate Change and Poverty,” according to an email he sent to City Council members on Wednesday. The mayor says the Verde Fund’s mission is to reduce poverty, achieve carbon neutrality and empower Santa Fe’s workforce.

“The Verde Fund makes sure taxpayer money is put to good use supporting local families who feel like they’ve been left behind – helping working Santa Feans deal with the costs of food, water, electricity and other resources that are rising as a result of climate change,” he wrote in the email. “At the same time, these dollars can connect families who are out of work to the opportunities that come with an economy finally focusing on sustainability at a high level.”

After a competitive bidding process, city staff recommended awarding $200,000 to the Verde Community Impact Collaborative, a coalition of 12 local groups to meet goals related to food security, home weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades, and career training.

Another $100,000 is recommended to be awarded to Homewise, a group that assists low-income families with affordable housing. The mayor says Homewise will be able to leverage another $400,000 of debt capital to access photovoltaic solar systems, and make energy and water conservation upgrades.

A city spokesman said in-kind services from participating groups would boost the total community investment to about $1 million.

The process to consider the bids begins Monday when it comes before the city’s Finance Committee.

“What we do now will set us up for failure or success in future generations,” Gonzales told the council.

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