Flint, MI— A Flint City Council meeting ended after eight and a half hours when too many members had left the meeting to legally continue.
While many of the items on the agenda were tended to during the May 24, 2021 meeting there were several special orders remaining by the time the meeting ended, including a discussion of bone scans and lead measurements, and incoming federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Around midnight, Council President Kate Fields requested a motion be made to adjourn the meeting due to the time.
Councilman Eric Mays said he thought it was “very interesting” the motion to adjourn came before they got to his special order about the federal funds.
The vote to adjourn failed with two council members, Santino Guerra and Jerri Winfrey-Carter having already left. Following the vote, Fields and Councilwoman Eva Worthing left the meeting. Shortly after, Councilman Allan Griggs left too, leaving too few members for the meeting to continue.
Here’s what the council accomplished during the meeting:
Discussed putting metal detectors at City Hall
Council President Kate Fields called a special order to discuss possibly bringing metal detectors into Flint’s City Hall, “given the violence that is just racing across our country.”
The council has yet to return to in-person meetings, but City Administrator Clyde Edwards said that discussions are taking place about when that might happen.
Edwards said that the idea of bringing metal detectors to City Hall with the future return of in-person meetings has merit, but will need more exploration into where the funds would come from, and how they would be operated.
Police Chief Terence Green said he would be in support of anything to better public safety, but that he would likely need to use one of his officers to man the detectors. He said he would need to do the math on how much this would cost, but that “it won’t be cheap.”
Councilwoman Monica Galloway brought up concerns regarding Michigan gun laws, and asked about how they could legally put restrictions as a city on those things.
Fields said she would hope to have more discussion on the matter once there is more information at hand.
Discussed composting and trash with Republic Services
Councilwoman Monica Galloway called a special order to discuss composting and trash with Republic Services following several complaints from residents about not getting their trash picked up.
Republic Services announced about two weeks ago that they had a shortage of truck drivers, which delayed their services. The City of Flint decided to dispatch street crews to pick up the slack.
Director of Transportation John Daly said that those crews operated for six days starting May 14, and picked up 136.4 tons of compost. He said they are looking at being reimbursed for $30,000.
Daly said Republic Services are prepared to continue their normal schedule at this point.
Councilman Mays requested information about other bidders for garbage pickup. He said he wanted to get started vetting other contracts before the Republic Services contract expires in June.
Voted to honor COVID-19 victims with a plaque at City Hall
Council President Fields requested a special order to discuss honoring city employees who died of COVID-19 with a plaque at City Hall.
Councilman Mays questioned whether this would be violating health privacy laws, and City Attorney Angela Wheeler said they would have to have the proper releases in order to put anyone’s names on the plaque.
Fields amended her motion to have this plaque made, to include acquiring the necessary releases.
The vote passed with five yes votes, and two abstentions from Mays and Galloway. Mays said he felt this was an attempt to “campaign on folks’ misery.”
Approved three Water Systems Advisory Council appointments
The council voted to approve three appointments to the Water Systems Advisory Council, and table two others until the required number of Flint residents were appointed, in order to be in compliance with the charter.
Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, a pediatrician and medical adviser to the mayor, and Benjamin Pauli, PhD, an assistant professor of social science at Kettering University, were appointed first because they are Flint residents. The council circled back to the other appointments, and approved James Gaskin, CEO of United Way of Genesee County, who lives in Fenton.
The council voted to table the appointments of Dr. Nancy Love, and Shawn P. McElmurry, PhD, who are both civil and environmental engineering professors. Love, an Ann Arbor resident, works at the University of Michigan, and McElmurry, a Detroit resident, works at Wayne State University.
Approved two contract change orders
The council voted to approve two contract change orders: a $60,000 contract extension to Rowe Professional Services, and a $124,752 change order to BS&A Software.
The additional money for Rowe would also extend their contract until Oct. 31, 2021, so they can continue “their provision of comprehensive zoning services,” including oversight and administration of the medical and marijuana business licensing process.
Rowe was the lowest of two bidders for the project in March 2020. The City entered an original contract with them for $60,000 that expired on April 30, 2021. That contract has been exhausted, so Rowe requested an additional six months and $60,000.
Director of Planning and Development Suzanne Wilcox said these funds would be used to catch up on a “large backlog of work.”
“We were hoping that we would be able to catch up during the first six-month contract, that did not actually happen,” Wilcox said. “So we’re looking to extend this contract and add…additional funds for another six months so that we can catch up on the backlog of the day to day work of the zoning division.”
The second change order the council approved was for BS&A, and was the fourth change order approved for their contract.
The City of Flint entered into a two-year agreement with the company in 2016, in an amount of $244,961, for the “continued use of various software applications,” used by the City for financial data processing.
After that initial contract expired, the City authorized a change order to extend the agreement through 2019. Two more change orders were approved, extending the agreement through 2020, and then again through 2021.
The fourth change order approved by council extends their agreement through May 1, 2022.
Councilman Mays asked why there are so many change orders being brought to council.
“I’m just trying to see why we ain’t getting it right. We’re dealing with change orders left and right,” Mays said.
Jeff Keen, the IT Director, said it was actually a better deal for the city to do yearly contracts as opposed to three-year contracts.
For three-year contracts, the company had to estimate the increase of each year related to inflation, but by doing it this way, Keen said, they don’t have to estimate anything.
Approved payment of settlement agreement between Herbert Biggs v. City of Flint
The council voted to approve a settlement agreement which would have the City of Flint pay $30,000 to Herbert Briggs. That amount came out of a claim for damages.
Details of the case were discussed in a closed session May 19.The City of Flint has not admitted liability, and the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the case upon payment of the agreed upon sum.
Approved Land Sale to Evergrow, LLC
The council voted 5 to 4 to approve the land sale of a former Flint Police Training Academy, located at 3420 St. John Street to Evergrow, LLC, for $500,000.
The company has plans to renovate the building and operate a Marijuana establishment for the purpose of commercially growing marijuana.
According to Khalfani Stephens, Flint’s director of economic development, Evergrow, LLC, made an unsolicited offer on the property.
Stephens said the administration then listed the property on the City’s website for one week to follow the bidding process. The property was listed for $5,000.
The property received one other bid for $20,000 by Flint resident Brenda Williams, who said she was intending to use the property for marijuana purposes as well. She said she had her eye on the property for a few years but was told there would have to be a bid process. She kept checking in on it, and just recently saw that the property was listed, so she made a bid not knowing about the $500,000 bid.
The City went with Evergrow’s offer, since it was a significantly larger amount.
Councilman Mays took issue with the way the sale was handled, and said he felt it should have been posted on more than one website. He requested a legal opinion on the way the procedures were handled following the approval of the sale.
Set a public hearing for brownfield redevelopment plan
The council voted to set a public hearing to discuss the Brownfield Redevelopment Plan for the James P. Cole Project, with six yes, one no from Griggs, and one abstention from Mays.
The redevelopment plan will result in a renovated and new industrial space at 1809 James P. Cole Blvd.
Stephens said the way this project works is that the investor must first raise the taxable value of the property before they can get any reimbursement. After the investor makes the eligible expenditures and turns in receipts to the city, the investor can ask for reimbursement not to exceed $2.5 million.
If the property’s taxable value goes under, for whatever reason, Stephens said the investor can’t recoup any money in that time.
The investor has asked to capture school taxes, but Stephens said the state will replenish any taxes lost so this won’t negatively impact the school district.