Flint, MI– The Flint City Council has less than one week to approve the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but as it stands, an incoming $94.7 million in federal funds have not yet been incorporated.
That’s because the council hasn’t received a resolution to accept the American Rescue Plan funds—and administration officials said they might not get one before the deadline to approve the budget.
Six of the nine council members attended a Special Finance Committee meeting on June 2, 2021, to discuss amendments they want to make to the proposed 2021-2022 budget before the vote to approve it at the next council meeting.
Flint City Council President Kate Fields, Councilwoman Eva Worthing, and Councilman Santino Guerra were not in attendance. Many of the council members who did attend wanted to know why the resolution was delayed and why they couldn’t see it ahead of time.
“This ought not happen. There’s nothing about this that’s right. There’s no municipality that’s been waiting on $47 million that wouldn’t already take into the coffers, because it’s already in our coffers,” said Councilwoman Monica Galloway. “The fact that it’s sitting somewhere in our building, in a checking account, and we don’t have a resolution that supports the intake of it … come on you guys.”
The City received the first half of the funds, $47,363,332, on May 19. The full $94.7 million is to be used over the course of five years.
Chief Financial Officer Shelbi Frayer said she and her staff have prepared the resolution for council, and that it’s “working its way through the system right now.”
Frayer said once the resolution is prepared, it has to go to the legal department for review, then to the administration to get four signatures, before it can come before council.
City Administrator Clyde Edwards said that at the previous meeting, they talked about presenting the resolution to the council at the next council committee meeting on June 9, two days after the deadline to approve the budget.
At previous budget meetings, Councilman Eric Mays questioned whether it was necessary to vote on a resolution to accept the funds before being able to include them in the budget. He said he thought the funds could be listed in the budget as incoming or expected revenue, since it was unlikely that they would not come through.
His idea was that the council could make budget amendments to move money around in light of the extra millions of dollars, but City Attorney Angela Wheeler said that the funds needed to be accepted by council first.
At the meeting on June 2, Mays said he thought the administration was intentionally holding the proposed budget until the last minute.
“I’m trying to be polite, but it’s ridiculous, and it’s intentional,” he said. “And I’m telling you the intent is to try to prevent us from doing any budget amendments.”
The council voted to draft a resolution for one budget amendment at a council meeting on May 17, to move $60,000 from the fund balance into the City Clerk’s office.
A few more resolutions for amendments were proposed to be sent to the next council meeting on June 7 for approval. They are:
$50,000 from the General Fund budget to the Ethics and Accountability Board
Mays made this proposal, and said the Ethics and Accountability Board needed a budget. Councilman Allan Griggs voted against the proposal, saying he hasn’t seen any reports from the board though they’ve been together for about a year.
The proposal to bring a resolution for this budget amendment to the next council meeting passed with a vote of 5 to 1.
$200,000 for the Office of the Ombudsperson
Mays made this proposal as well, and said that the Office of the Ombudsperson has been “backed up” and can’t function properly. It passed with a vote of 5 to 1.
Unspecified dollar amount to fund an employee who handles marijuana concerns in planning and development
Mays said that the Director of Planning and Development Suzanne Wilcox said that a person whose main responsibility is to handle marijuana concerns in her department was “very much needed.” Wilcox was not on the line, and the administration did not have a dollar amount for how much this position would cost.
City Administrator Clyde Edwards said Wilcox would have information that would be “of use” at the next council meeting.
Mays and council staff said they would be working over the weekend to get eight to 12 resolutions for all of the budget amendments ready in time for the council meeting on Monday.