Flint, MI — The Flint City Council voted down a resolution at its Nov. 2, 2023 special city council meeting that would have allocated opioid settlement funds for a customer service center on the north side of Flint.
The purpose of the service center would have been for residents to pay water bills and other city fees, as well as provide access to the city’s public health office. The lease would have run through Dec. 31, 2024.
“I think there’s a better use of opioid money to stop and help addiction,” Flint City Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer said during the Nov. 2 meeting. “This is just an expansion of government.”
Flint City Council Vice President Ladel Lewis and councilmembers Quincy Murphy, Candice Mushatt and Eva Worthing voted to approve the resolution. Councilmembers Judy Priestley and Pfeiffer voted ‘no.’ Councilmembers Eric Mays, Jerri Winfrey-Carter, and Tonya Burns were not present for the vote.
The customer service center would have also included a drive-thru as a way for residents to pay their bills.
“This is a pilot program that I think is great, and one, because it assists the disabled … if you want to pay your bill in person, you do not have to get out of your car and you don’t have to walk,” said Lewis of her support for the resolution.
The resolution, which was first introduced at the Oct. 4, 2023 finance committee meeting, would have allocated $108,000 per year from the opioid settlement funds.
The lease for the property, which would have been at 4813 Clio Road, would have cost the city $4,500 a month.
Tara Moreno, the founder and director of Serenity House, a recovery community organization, spoke on the resolution during public speaking. She said it should go toward those affected by the opioid crisis.
“They really need to go to treatment, prevention, recovery and harm reduction. Not paying water bills. We have to spend this money in a way that is a homage to the people that have lost their lives,” Moreno said.
Moreno said she did support a resolution that would have allocated $50,000 in opioid settlement funds to Donations with Love, an organization that helps people between 11 and 19 years old and veterans “to discover new ways of thinking and to solve problems without resorting to drugs, violence and possibly suicide,” according to its website.
However, council did not vote on any resolutions after the customer service center because it lost quorum shortly before 9 p.m.
Here are the resolutions council did not vote on:
- A $26 million, five-year trash contract extension with Priority Waste, LLC.
- A resolution authorizing $50,000 in opioid settlement funds to the Donations with Love Foundation for educating the community on the effects of opioids, e-cigarettes, CBD, addiction prevention and recovery, harm reduction and the overall impact of trauma on adolescents and families.
- A resolution authorizing $200,000 in opioid settlement funds to Insight Med-Psych Healthcare Services and Hospital.
- A resolution authorizing $50,000 in ARPA funds to the Neighborhood Engagement Hub to serve as a fiduciary for the Mott Park Neighborhood Association to make the park less susceptible to blight by adding a 10-foot-wide asphalt path to enable access to amenities in the park.
- A resolution authorizing $100,000 in ARPA funds for increased food access to the Asbury Community Kitchen.
- A resolution authorizing $100,000 in ARPA funds to R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center for increased food access.
- A resolution authorizing $1,368,158.23 in ARPA funds to improve and update seven community parks and centers:
- Brennan Park
- Broome Park
- Dewey Park
- McKinley Park
- Kearsley Park
- Ophelia Bonner Park
- Sarvis Park
A second meeting had also been called for by Winfrey-Carter and Mays, but it did not start due to a lack of quorum. That meeting’s agenda included all of the above agenda items, as well as two resolutions that would suspend Lewis and Murphy from their council authorities and responsibilities for 30 days for Flint City Charter violations.