Flint, MI—Flint City Council Committee meetings were cut short last night after a disagreement led to an attempt to remove one council member, and three members then voluntarily left the meeting.
With only four members present, the council lost a quorum, the minimum required number of members to continue holding the meeting.
Before all that, here is what happened:
Moved a resolution to renew Microsoft License to the next regular council meeting
This resolution, if approved, would authorize city officials to issue a purchase order to Dell Marketing LP for Microsoft License renewal, as requested by The Finance Department Division of Information Services, in an amount not to exceed $86,557.67. This is the third year of a three-year agreement.
Moved resolution to add $10,000 to a contract for tree work in city parks to next council meeting
This resolution, if approved, would authorize city officials to increase the total contract amount with J&M Tree Service by $10,000, as requested by Parks & Recreation. The current purchase order with this company is for $74,000, so this resolution would bring the total to $84,000.This money would be set up as a purchase order for emergency tree removal and trimming in parks.
Moved resolution to issue a contract to Platinum Mechanical, Inc. to next council meeting
This resolution, if approved, would issue a contract to Platinum Mechanical, Inc. for a Sludge Storage Pipe Fabrication project, as requested by the Department of Public Works, in an amount not to exceed $131,477.00.
According to the resolution, this money would pay for qualified mechanical contractors to “fabricate piping requirements” for two sludge storage tanks to be used in processing wastewater sludge. There is currently only one sludge storage tank, and according to the resolution, that is inadequate.
Move two settlement resolutions to the next regular council meeting
The council voted to send two resolutions regarding settlement agreements to the next council meeting. The first settlement is for Stacy Swimp v Mary Buszek, in the amount of $79,500. The second is a settlement agreement for Mackinac Center for Public Policy v City of Flint, in the amount of $175, over a Freedom of Information Act request.
Moved a resolution to approve a deficit elimination plan for the Downtown Development Authority to the next council meeting
According to this resolution, the DDA has a deficit balance of $138,003.00 as of June 30, 2020. The DDA’s Self-Insurance Fund is also “in the red” by $922,563.00 after incurring “numerous expenses related to insurance and legal costs.”
If this resolution is approved, the City will cover these costs using money from the general fund, and this deficit elimination plan will be submitted to the Michigan Department of Treasury for certification.
Council President Kate Fields inquired about how the DDA acquired this deficit, what protection the City has against issues like this in the future, and what kind of financial reporting the DDA has to do to the City.
The City of Flint’s Chief Financial Officer Shelbi Frayer, who has only been with the city for a couple months now, said she wasn’t sure what caused the deficit, but that whenever there are overages, the City’s general fund is “on the hook.”
Frayer said the City’s only real recourse is to monitor the DDA’s spending. City Clerk Inez Brown, a member of the DDA, said the deficit was a surprise to her, and that the board provides financial reports every month.
There was talk of separating the deficit and insurance portions of this resolution into two resolutions, but the motion to do so did not pass.
Moved easement agreements for the Genesee County Drain Commissioner–Division of Water and Waste Services, and the Great Lakes Water Authority to the next council meeting
The council voted to move two resolutions related to easement agreements to the next regular city council meeting. An easement is a legal situation where a specific piece of land remains owned by the landowner, but another person or organization has the right to use that land for a specific purpose.
The first resolution, if approved, would grant a permanent non-exclusive easement to the GCDC to “own, operate and maintain” a meter facility and water main on the North Dort Highway property at Frances Road. This easement is in the amount of one dollar.
The second resolution would approve the grant of a permanent non-exclusive easement to the GLWA to “construct, operate, maintain, repair and/or replace the GLWA water main pipe” at the same location. This easement amount is also $1.00.
According to the resolution, the City of Flint entered into a master agreement in 2017 to build a secondary water source with the GCDC and the GLWA at this location.
Special order by Councilman Eric Mays to discuss blight and Neighborhood Safety Officers
At the last council meeting, Councilman Mays said he would like his neighborhood safety officer to attend the committee meeting to discuss their procedures and duties. Other council members agreed that they would like to hear from their neighborhood safety officers as well.
Police Chief Terence Green was in attendance, but the neighborhood safety officers were not, so Councilman Mays asked Green his questions.
Mays’s main concern was with “selective prosecution,” especially as it related to a particular ordinance for vehicles parked on the street for more than 24 hours. He said he had a constituent call him after they went out of town and came back to find their car tagged. The constituent, and Mays, were told there was an ordinance that allows cars left on the street for 24 hours to be tagged and towed.
Mays said it seemed this ordinance was not being applied fairly as there are “buses and vehicles parked for more than 24 hours,” referring to the campaign buses for Council Vice President Maurice Davis
“I just don’t believe they moving every 24 hours and don’t believe they should be parked on the sidewalk and double parked on the street and ignored by these neighborhood safety officers,” Mays said.
Davis called this a personal attack, and Councilwoman Eva Worthing, who was chairing the Governmental Operations Committee meeting, asked if this matter could be discussed outside of a council meeting.
Mays didn’t think so.
“It should be talked about with the neighborhood safety officers…who can see a little car in front of my resident’s house, but can’t see trucks and buses in front of an elected official’s establishment,” Mays said.
Chief Green said neighborhood safety officers respond to citizen complaints, but Mays said he didn’t think there could have been citizens calling in complaints for all the vehicles he’s heard of getting tagged.
As the conversation went on Davis continued to call it a personal attack, and Mays called it professional business. Worthing ruled Mays out of order, and Mays appealed her decision.
The council voted on the decision, and four members sided with Worthing, and three sided with Mays. There was confusion about whether four votes was enough to uphold Worthing’s ruling, and after arguments about what the rule was, Worthing said Mays was to be removed from the meeting.
For what they said was “lawlessness,” Councilman Mays, Councilwoman Monica Galloway, and Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter left the meeting.
For a lack of a quorum, the meeting was ended before getting to the rest of the agenda items.