Flint, MI— Flint City Council met for their regular committee meeting March 3. Here are the takeaways from the meeting, which lasted more than seven hours.
- Special Order to discuss apartment complexes with high water bills
Councilwoman Monica Galloway requested a special order to discuss the Richfield Court and Sunset Village apartment complexes that owe an excess of $1.2 million in water bills. The City will eventually be taking legal action, but Galloway asked if there were safeguards that could be put in place to protect families and residents.
City Attorney Angela Wheeler told her that they would hold a closed session on Monday’s council meeting to discuss this issue, and also provide information that can be given to the public.
- Special Order to discuss the new Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Financial Officer
Mayor Sheldon Neeley announced Shelbi Frayer as the new Chief Financial Officer on Feb. 24.
Councilwoman Galloway said she was “excited that the financial department is moving forward,” but shared the same concerns as her colleague, Councilman Eric Mays, about what the charter allows as far as ‘acting’ and ‘interim’ appointments.
There will be more discussion about this appointment and the charter at Monday’s regular city council meeting.
- Resolution to approve contract with Sorensen Gross Construction Co. for Dort Pump Station Rehabilitation
The contract amount is not to exceed $3,649,397. City Administrator Clyde Edwards said the project is on schedule at the first phase of two has already been completed.
Council voted to send this resolution to next Monday’s regular city council meeting.
- Resolution to approve a multi-year agreement with Dearborn National Insurance Co. to continue providing the city with life and short-term disability insurance
The agreement includes a total cost not to exceed $325,000, with $75,000 for the rest of FY 2021, $150,000 for FY 2022, and $100,000 for July 1, 2022 through March 1, 2023.
Dearborn was selected by the city’s healthcare consultant after a bidding process. Council voted to send this resolution next Monday’s regular city council meeting.
- Resolution to approve a budget amendment
The resolution would authorize officials to incorporate approved appropriation changes into the FY 2020-2021 operating budget for the City.
Council voted to send this the Special Affairs Committee meeting before the regular council meeting for further discussion.
- Change order for additional funds for Rowe Professional Services Co.
Rowe requested additional funding to continue project management services for lead service line replacement. The company entered into a contract with the City on March 11, 2019 in an amount not to exceed $2,138,735.
This agenda item has come up at several meetings, but councilmembers haven’t felt satisfied in getting answers to their questions about what exactly the money will be used for and why it’s needed. The council voted to send this to the Special Affairs Committee Meeting before the regular council meeting on Monday.
Governmental Operations Committee
- Special Order to discuss police partnerships as it relates to limiting large gatherings
Councilwoman Galloway created a special order to discuss an issue she said she has been having in the 7th ward with large parties. She said one area in particular has consistently been having very large gatherings of upwards of 50 people, that have been disturbing residents, and not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.
“There is such a boldness to this lawlessness,” Galloway said. “These residents are enduring gunshots, they’re enduring no sleep.”
City Attorney Angela Wheeler and Flint Police Chief Terence Green said they could not unveil the details, but that they have been developing a strategy that they think will work to deal with the parties.
- Special Order for council to meet with the recently hired attorney
In December, the Flint City Council voted to hire their own attorney, Richard Wilson Jr., of Mika Meyers, to advise and assist them with legal matters, especially the Flint Water Lawsuit Settlement.
Wilson met with the council for the first time since his contract was approved at this committee meeting. Councilman Eric Mays called the special order to speak with Wilson about what they can do about filing a motion related to the water settlement.
Wilson said they do not have the authority to do that. Mays said he thought Wilson could provide them with some representation, and assist them in filing motions, but Wilson said there were limits on what he could do.
“I have not been hired by the City of Flint to represent the City of Flint in any litigation,” Wilson said.
Mays asked him what his contract is for. “To consult with council privately and do nothing?” he asked.
Wilson said he was hired “to provide you with guidance on how and what is going on with the various water cases.”
Mays requested that Wilson would join a conference call at another time to speak with him and the other attorneys for the City.
- Resolutions to approve multiple street vacations
Two resolutions were on the agenda involving street vacations, and they were both sent to the next council meeting.
The street vacations include: Decker Street between Robert T. Longway Boulevard and Kearsley Street, and Kearsley Street between Walnut Street and Robert T. Longway Boulevard.
- Resolution to approve the City of Flint Brownfield Redevelopment Plan
The plan involves renovating an existing building on 1809 James P. Cole Boulevard, and building a new building.
According to the resolution, once the plan is approved, it will “allow the reimbursement of eligible project expenses from the additional tax revenue realized as a result of the redevelopment.” This reimbursement can occur over the life of the plan, and are estimated at $2,541,508.
There is not a specific planned use for what the building will be for, but City of Flint Director of Economic Development Khalfani Stephens said this is something “exciting” for the City.
“He’s building a building because he believes that the current economy is strong enough to support the idea that if he built this building, he will be able to fill it in the future,” Stephens said. He discussed how at the moment there aren’t enough readily available areas and buildings for businesses to expand if they want to, and this project would provide that opportunity for people.
Councilman Allan Griggs said he needs to hear more details of the plan before he would be convinced of supporting the project.
Council voted to move this to the Special Affairs committee meeting before the regular council meeting on Monday.
- Approval of appointment of Shelbi Frayer as Chief Financial Officer
Mayor Sheldon Neeley has appointed Shelbi Frayer to be the new Chief Financial Officer with an hourly compensation rate of $71.153 per hour for a total of $148,100 annually.
Councilwoman Galloway said she had more questions she would like to have answered before it gets moved to the regular council meeting, and requested to move it to Special Affairs. That motion failed by one vote.
A second motion was made to move the item to the regular council meeting. That motion failed by one vote.
This agenda item “died” in the committee meeting, which means someone must now reintroduce the agenda item in the regular council meeting.
- Resolution to approve emergency amended rules for governing council meetings
Councilwoman Galloway said in her opinion, the rules were written by those “who have not been operating fairly.”
“Until we get the rules that allow…us to know how the chair gets governed, I won’t be supporting this,” Galloway said.
Instead of sending the resolution to council, they voted to send it back to the next legislative committee.
- Six ordinances related to Chapter 50 (Zoning)
The ordinances involve amendments to the Zoning chapter, and were not discussed at this committee meeting. Councilwoman Galloway requested that Director of Planning and Development Suzanne Wilcox come prepared to respond to concerns residents have brought up with her regarding the amendments, at the next council meeting.
The ordinances were all moved to the next regular council meeting.
- Resolution to make the United Way of Genesee County a sub-grantee of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant
This City of Flint received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for the FY 2017-2018 budget, in the amount of $2,957,800 to assist with workforce development and incentivizing businesses to hire Flint residents.
Stephens said with this money, the Flint residents who meet the criteria will be making at least $13 an hour, and can use the funds to get the training and equipment they need for their positions.
Once the resolution is approved, the United Way will be able to administer the issuing of $105,000 funds in accordance with the grant requirements.
Stephens explained the process like this: A company would come to United Way and say they have an eligible applicant from Flint who will be starting to work with them, but needs training or equipment in order to start this job that they are not able to get on their own. That company must meet the grant criteria by keeping the individual employed for a number of months, and once that is met, the money is paid out.
Stephens estimated that these funds will help, at the very least, 100 individuals.
This resolution was moved to the next regular council meeting.