Flint, MI—While nearly all city business on last night’s Flint City Council agenda was addressed in under 35 minutes, it’s what didn’t get voted on that took up the majority of the body’s more than six-hour meeting.

On Jan. 23, 2023, Council voted to approve several appointments, grant and purchase agreements, and lump sum payments to recently promoted Flint Police Department lieutenants.

What it didn’t vote on: a resolution that would’ve ceased Council’s collection of an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) related form and redirected residents seeking project support to the city’s Office of Public Health.

A Special Order and Add-On Resolution

During Council’s Jan. 23 Special Affairs committee, immediately preceding Council’s regular meeting, Councilwoman Judy Priestley introduced a special order to discuss the ARPA application process—a source of recent tension between the City and some council members.

Council Vice President Dr. Ladel Lewis, who chaired the meeting, then introduced an “add-on” resolution to change the name of a form Council has used to gather resident input on the City’s ARPA funding allocation. The resolution also noted that the forms would be shared with Flint’s Office of Public Health for referrals to community resources.

That form, referred to as the “City Council Initial Form,” has been construed by some residents as an application for ARPA funding, a claim Councilman Eric Mays has maintained and which the City has tried to counteract with press releases and the launch of an official ARPA funding application.

Flint City Councilman Quincy Murphy speaks during Flint City Council’s Special Affairs Committee meeting at Flint City Hall on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

During discussion, Councilman Quincy Murphy clarified that he’d voted for the initial form thinking it was a way to gather residents’ input on how ARPA money should be allocated at four Council-led community meetings in 2022, not an application for funding. 

“That was my understanding, but it went left and then people believed that if they put an application in, through that one-pager, they was gonna get some help, and it was heartbreaking for me to come here Saturday and see all them people in this chamber,” Murphy told his fellow councilmembers, referring to a special meeting called by Mays and Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter on Jan. 21. 

After some back-and-forth, the city’s chief resilience officer, Lottie Ferguson, was invited up to discuss the application process now in place for ARPA funding. 

Ferguson reiterated statements from an earlier press conference on the matter, making clear the application for the city’s “community grants” portion of its ARPA funding was not for individuals, but for nonprofit organizations and businesses.

“The current application is for organizations, nonprofits, businesses, etcetera,” Ferguson said. “It is not currently available for individuals and residents.”

Ferguson said that the city has partnered with five organizations to help eligible entities apply for funding, and that the application process will be open until March 27, 2023.

She also clarified that while Council had approved a little over $18 million for the ARPA community grants, roughly $2 million of that funding had already been approved by Council for work at Clark Commons and the remainder was being held for small business grant opportunities at a later time, bringing the available total down to around $15.66 million.

Ultimately, Ferguson noted, the goal of providing ARPA funding through nonprofits is for federal accountability, as whatever money is not accounted for properly may need to be returned. She said the current application process now speaks to that accountability.

“We do understand that there are a number of questions and comments and concerns about the length of the application and how much is being requested of organizations, but it is a requirement as we are administering federal grant funds,” Ferguson told Council. “These are things that we cannot get around… these are federal government requirements. I do not want us to be in a position where we have to return a single penny because we cannot afford to do that.”

Following the special order, Council moved into discussion around changing the name of its input form to “City of Flint Resource Identification Referral Form.”

This was met with another concern from Murphy, who suggested that rather than continue to confuse residents with renaming the form, the Council should stop accepting it altogether, given that an actual application now exists.

“I know that you guys are just changing the title at the top, but it’s still the same form,” Murphy said, noting that the form itself has been the point of confusion. “My suggestion is we vote as a body to either cease and desist the form that’s being put out there now, and as a body vote to just drop that form.”

Lewis said that if Council did pursue that, there should be clarity for the people who have already turned in forms and for those who will continue to come to Council’s offices to make ARPA funding requests.

“They’re gonna show up to that council office tomorrow, regardless of what we vote on tonight, and they are going to request those forms,” Lewis said. “So when they go to request the forms, are we going to say ‘no we cease and desist giving those,’ or are we going to give them a solution as well?”

Flint City Council Vice President Ladel Lewis looks at her colleagues during Flint City Council’s Special Affairs Committee meeting at Flint City Hall on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

The resolution, as proposed, included a provision that those inquiries could be rerouted to Flint’s Office of Public Health, as the department is already set up to be a resource navigator for some of the concerns residents had shared in the forms.

Ferguson told Council that the public health office is willing to be a landing pad for following up on forms already received and possible further requests, but the office remains understaffed and underfunded after Council’s recent decision to partially fund the grant-based department for 2023.

“I just want to caution you that if you decide to do this, and we get 100 folks showing up tomorrow, there’s gonna be a line out the door. We don’t have staff to support that immediately,” Ferguson said.

“I understand that, but it’s the job of public health office to direct people,” Lewis said. “It sounds like we need to staff your office so you all can function properly, and if we would have done this in the past, then we wouldn’t probably be here.”

Council President Allie Herkenroder motioned to amend the name change resolution to include language that Council would no longer be accepting the initial forms, and forms Council staff does receive will be forwarded to the Office of Public Health, where that staff will provide referral support.

The motion passed 6-1, with Councilwoman Tonya Burns voting no, and Winfrey-Carter absent for the vote. Mays was also absent after having been earlier removed from the meeting for using derogatory language toward other councilmembers.

However, when it came time for Council’s regular meeting, the resolution was still in discussion when Priestley motioned to adjourn the meeting.

Councilmembers Dennis Pfeiffer, Eva Worthing, Lewis, Murphy and Priestley voted in favor. Herkenroder, Burns and Winfrey-Carter voted no. Mays, having returned for the regular council meeting, abstained.

City Clerk Davina Donahue confirmed to Flint Beat that the resolution will now appear on Council’s next regular meeting agenda, Feb. 6.

Everything Else

When Council did start its regular meeting at 11:09 p.m. the body made decisions on the rest of its agenda, adjourning by 11:40 p.m.

Here’s what Council approved on Jan. 23:

  • Appointment of Enrique Rodriguez to the Ethics and Accountability Board. Rodriguez’s term will commence immediately and expire June 26, 2026.
  • Appointment of Geraldine Redmond to the Flint Housing Commission. Redmond’s term will commence immediately and expire Aug. 31, 2027.
  • Appointment of Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea to the Bishop International Airport Authority. Walker-Griffea’s term will commence immediately and expire Jan. 2, 2026.
  • Appointment of Sharon Reeves to the Mass Transportation Authority Board of Directors. Reeves’ term will commence immediately and expire March 31, 2025.
  • Appointment of Rodney Lontine to the Flint Downtown Development Authority. Lontine’s term will commence immediately and expire June 30, 2027.
  • Appointment of Kristin Stevenson to the Building Code Board of Appeals. Stevenson’s term commenced upon adoption of her appointment and will expire Jan. 1, 2024.

All of the above appointments, aside from Stevenson’s, were approved 8-0, with Mays absent for the vote. 

Winfrey-Carter voted no on Stevenson’s appointment, citing concern over Stevenson being the daughter of Flint’s Planning and Development director Suzanne Wilcox. Burns abstained, and Mays was absent.

Council also voted to approve the following:

  • An agreement with the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office for a performance-based contract with Othram Incorporated. Othram will provide lab testing of genome sequencing for forensic analysis.
  • The purchase of vactor parts, services and repairs from Jack Doheny Supply in an amount not to exceed $40,000, for the Water Service Center.
  • Authorization of a change order for archaeological services from Commonwealth Heritage Group in an amount not to exceed $60,030.
  • Lump sum payments of $3,000 each to three recently promoted Flint Police Department lieutenants.
  • An agreement with YWCA Greater Flint for a three-year “Sexual Assault Kit Initiative” grant in an amount not to exceed $142,272. The grant period runs Oct. 1, 2022 – Sep. 30, 2025.
  • An agreement with the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office for a three-year “Sexual Assault Kit Initiative” grant in an amount not to exceed $379,590. The grant period runs Oct. 1, 2022 – Sep. 30, 2025.
  • A second-quarter budget amendment for FY23. The amendment is in the amount of $123,000.

All of the above resolutions were approved 8-0, with Mays absent for the vote.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....

One reply on “Here’s what happened at the Jan. 23 Flint City Council meeting”

  1. Why is Allie there she doesn’t care for her people in her ward 7 she doesn’t return calls. I think people working for the city of Flint should live her out wouldn’t look so awful flint is a mess. I don’t want anyone down there to speak for me and giving that arpa money to those organization to decide is a mess a couple of times I went for did the work then said the funds were gone . excuses

Comments are closed.