The Everett Police Department went through $25,000 in gift cards within 2 hours during its first gun buyback on Dec. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (City of Everett)

The Everett Police Department went through $25,000 in gift cards within 2 hours during its first gun buyback on Dec. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (City of Everett)

Everett considering ARPA money for business boost, gun buyback

Another proposal gives each council member discretion on spending $75,000 of the federal aid on local pandemic recovery efforts

EVERETT — Everett could use millions in untapped federal relief money to pay for council-directed COVID-19 recovery projects, support local businesses and help buy back more unwanted guns.

The city received $20.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. So far, the city used the money on temporary shelters, public bathrooms, social workers and other projects.

The Everett City Council on Wednesday heard proposals for spending another nearly $1.4 million. They’re scheduled to vote on the items this week.

“These are things that we don’t have the money to do and we’re trying to do these things for our community,” Mayor Cassie Franklin told the council.

In December, the city used $25,000 of ARPA money for its first gun buyback. The city’s police department collected nine assault-style rifles, 109 long guns and 123 handguns.

People got gift cards worth $25, $100, $200 and $300, depending on the weapon. The gift cards were gone within 2 hours, despite planning the event to last 4 hours, Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman told the council.

The program is designed to claim weapons that otherwise could be lost, stolen or misused.

The Everett Police Department collected 241 firearms in exchange for $25,000 in gift cards during its first gun buyback on Dec. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (City of Everett)

The Everett Police Department collected 241 firearms in exchange for $25,000 in gift cards during its first gun buyback on Dec. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (City of Everett)

Now, Everett could double the number of gift cards for another buyback this year.

“It seems to be highly successful and I think the variety of gift cards is something that attracts people as well,” Templeman told the council.

The efficacy of such buybacks, sometimes called “guns for gift cards,” is questionable, The Pew Trust reported last year. Some of the challenges include paying for firearms from other communities and states, as well as buying weapons that “tended to be older and less functional,” according to The Pew Trust.

Under another proposal, each of the seven council members would be allotted $75,000 to appropriate toward COVID-19 recovery efforts. Julie Willie, Everett’s community development director, said council members could pool their amounts together or disperse it to multiple projects.

Districts were in mind with this so you can put more money into your communities,” Franklin said.

City staff proposed $200,000 for an equitable business strategy in the Westmont, Holly, Evergreen and Boeing area of south Everett. The 10-year plan is intended to create wealth, preserve established local businesses and provide access to small business owners affected by likely redevelopment from light rail in the next 15 years. It has a focus on Black, indigenous, people of color and other minority groups.

A 2-year pilot program to form an Everett business support network was tabbed at $300,000. Dan Eernissee, Everett economic development director, said the network would help the city engage with some of the estimated 6,000 businesses licensed in Everett.

“If you were to ask me right now, ‘Dan, where are the women-owned businesses?’ it would be really hard for me to answer,” Eernissee said.

A temporary specialist paid for by $250,000 from Everett’s ARPA funds could help the city manage its ARPA money.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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