Flint, MI–At the council meeting on July 12, the Flint City Council discussed various issues with the Department of Public Works, dropped a public hearing on the potential rezoning for a downtown marijuana dispensary, and postponed discussion of several resolutions back to committee.

Here’s a breakdown of what the council did:

Discussed various water main breaks and sidewalk restoration with the Department of Public Works

At 3:40 a.m. on July 12, there was a water main break at the intersection of East Court and Maxine St which resulted in a nine-foot sinkhole. Councilwoman Monica Galloway asked Mike Brown, the director of Flint’s Department of Public Works for additional information.

Galloway said that she was concerned about the lack of transparency and asked where residents can go for more information about such breaks. 

Councilwoman Eva Worthing said she was concerned that this was the fourteenth water main break this year and she wanted to be reassured that it doesn’t happen again.

Brown said that although the DPW has ideas as to why there have many breaks, they’re only “speculations.”

“I know that the company that did the work has taken a sample and sent it back to the company to see if there was any problem with the pipe itself,” Brown said. “I can’t tell you what the result was because I had not seen that and I was only told that it happened. I don’t want to put blame on somebody without knowing one hundred percent… It appears that there’s something that needs to be done because it may have been done incorrectly.”

Brown said residents can call the 24-hour phone number 810-766-7202 requesting any information regarding water main breaks.

Councilman Eric Mays said he would like to discuss with the DPW his concerns about Goyette Mechanical’s performance to continue restoring lawns and sidewalks of homes with service line replacements.

Although the project may seem incomplete, Brown said that Goyette has completed their contract and run out of funds.

“The problem with this project in totality is that it was one set of funding, not for two projects, just one set of funding, and so all the dollars were for both service line replacement and restoration,” Brown said. “We’re coming down to the end of the dollars. As you hear about us putting out the service line replacement deadlines trying to inform people to get involved, much of the dollars were directed in that area to support that part of the project. … The two have been intertwined and much of the dollars have been directed to service line replacements.”

Although there are 2000 people on the list for service line replacements, Brown said only 300 have “actually submitted the actual signature to have it done.”

Councilman Mays requested that Yolanda Gray, Accounting & Administration Coordinator at the City of Flint, be present at the next committee meeting to shed “her insights” on this.

Dropped a public hearing on the potential rezoning of Raspberries Rhythm Bar & Grill to allow for a marijuana dispensary

The council voted 8-0 to drop the public hearing about the potential rezoning of Raspberries Rhythm Bar & Grill to allow for a marijuana dispensary.

At the June 17 council meeting, council members approved the public hearing but were discussing the mixed reactions from their constituents about the rezoning of this downtown location. The planning commission rejected rezoning the property after local businessman Phil Shaltz presented the idea to the commission on May 25.

At the July 12 council meeting, Director of Planning and Development Suzanne Wilcox asked to postpone the public hearing.

“There was a little bit of confusion on Planning and Development’s part about the process that needed to be followed, based on the fact that it was denied by the planning commission,” Wilcox said. “So we had several documents that we had put together and the clerk published it, but there were a couple pieces of information regarding that extra order that also should have been in the publication. We are actually requesting that this be postponed so that we can assemble the proper ordinates which need to be provided to you even though the planning commission denied it.”

Councilman Mays said that because documents were published and posted for the public hearing incorrectly, the correct motion was to drop instead of postponing because “it wasn’t right in the first place.”

Postponed discussion of three-month leasing of a helicopter to Flint Police

The council voted 7-1 to postpone the discussion of leasing a helicopter to Flint Police to the next committee meeting. The Flint Department requested that the Flint City Council approved the transfer of $510,920 in General Funds to the police department. This money came from fees collected from towed cars and other violations. The Police Department also requested that $304,050 of that money would be used on the leasing of a helicopter and pilot service for three months to help assist police officers on the ground.

You can read more about this discussion here.

Postponed discussion of the Deficit Elimination Plan for the Downtown Development Authority fund

The council voted 5-2 to postpone discussion of the Deficit Elimination Plan for Flint’s Downtown Development Authority to the next committee meeting. The City of Flint’s DDA fund has had a $138,003 deficit balance since June 30, 2020. According to the terms of the proposed deficit elimination plan, the DDA has taken all steps to reduce the costs associated with the component unit. The DDA requested that any costs not covered by the DDA would be covered by the City’s General Fund.

According to the proposed plan, the DDA’s Self-Insurance Fund was also “in the red” by $922,563.00 after incurring “numerous expenses related to insurance and legal costs.”

Shelbi Frayer, Flint’s Purchasing Director, said although the DDA operates independently, it acts as a “dependent” to the city.

“At the end of the day if they fall short, let’s say on making a bond payment, or whatever may happen over there, the city would be on the hook for those expenditures or those potential liabilities,” Frayer said. “What that means is that the DDA is a component unit of ours so if they fell short, at the point at the books closing, our assets would be on the hook or would be liable to cover those.”

Councilwoman Galloway said that she wanted to find an alternative way to eliminate the deficit balance that wouldn’t rely on the city’s general funds. 

“We as a city are always liable for the DDA, and their poor money management or whatever,” Galloway said. “Many people have been saying that the DDA should be under the purview of the city. … If the constituents’ purse has to be pooled to take care of the oversight of the DDA spending, then why wouldn’t we consider something else?”

Councilwoman Galloway also said she wanted an “opportunity to speak to whoever is at the DDA that is handling the finances for the DDA,” before approval of the plan. 

Postponed discussion of a contract with SpyGlass to provide technology expense management consulting services

The council voted 7-1 to postpone the discussion of a contract with SpyGlass to provide technology expense management consulting services.

At the June 23 committee meeting, the council had concerns with the business model for SpyGlass, a telecommunications auditing firm that would analyze Flint’s primary telecommunications service accounts to seek cost recovery, service elimination, and cost reduction recommendations. The company has identified $571,570.56 in immediate savings. 

At the June 23 committee meeting, Jeff Keen, the director of Information Technology at the City of Flint, said if the council chooses to enter into a contract with the company, SpyGlass would get paid 100 percent of the savings from the first year. The council argued that the compensation amount for the company was too high.

“If I come into your company, and I tell you, hey, I can find you savings,” Galloway said at the June 23 committee meeting. “(And) that the very first year of the savings that I find you, are going to go to me directly. Maybe that’s a good deal to you, and I’m not saying that it’s not worth it. But, any money that we recoup in the first year they’re going to get. And so I’m fine. I got enough information for me.”

At the July 12 meeting, Councilman Allan Griggs said he “saw nothing wrong” with how the company makes money.

Approved the appointment of Casey Lester to the Downtown Development Authority Board

The council voted 8-0 to approve the appointment of Casey Lester to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board. He would replace Glenn Kelly, whose term expired in August 2016, although he continued to serve until recently resigning. Lester currently works as a business banking community banker at Huntington National Bank. 

Councilman Griggs said he approved of the appointment of Casey Lester because he “handles himself well on social media,” as well as the Board of Education. 

Lester’s term expires on June 30, 2025.

Voted to enter a contract, recognized funds, and settled multiple claims

The council voted to approve the following resolutions in an 8-0 vote:

  • Enter into a two-year contract with Complete Towing to provide towing and storage services for Fiscal Year 2021 and Fiscal Year 2022, in an amount not to exceed $185,845 for FY2021 and $242,400 for FY2022, for a total cost of $428,245 
  • Recognize and appropriate the $89.64 earned in interest from the 2017 Justice Assistance Grants to the appropriate JAG accounts
  • Pay $255.50 for the settlement offer in the matter of Frank Dotson v City of Flint. An executive session was held on June 23 and all parties accepted the City of Flint’s settlement offer in this matter in the amount of $255.50. The City of Flint admits no liability in the suit filed by Frank Dotson.
  • Approve and consent to the city settling sewage event damage claims from 11 individuals, totaling $64,600 with payment to be drawn from appropriated funds in the Litigation and Suits. The City of Flint admits no liability in the suits filed by these individuals.

The next committee meeting will be July 21.

Khue Tran (she/her) is a journalist hailing from Pflugerville, TX. She is currently a student at Yale University and has written for multiple publications on campus, in addition to having words in the...

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