Flint, MI—It was a night full of postponements for Flint City Council’s last committee meetings and regular session of 2022.
While the Council’s Dec. 19 agendas were packed with city business, a lack of information—a missing contract and attachments, no addresses for potential appointees, and remaining questions about certain resolutions—led to much of that business being pushed to next year.
Here’s more on that, and what else happened, at Council:
Voted to postpone approval of a lease agreement for two city-owned golf courses
Councilman Quincy Murphy again raised concern over the pricing and the potential for a bid process regarding Kearsley Lake Golf Course and Swartz Creek Golf Course.
“I am just not in agreement of the amount of money that they [Flint City Golf, LLC] spend for the golf courses. I just think they need to go back to the table and administration and renegotiate a different fee,” Murphy said. “I believe if y’all put that golf course out for bid, there are gonna be a whole bunch of other people wanting to bid on that golf course.”
Both courses have been under the management of Flint City Golf, LLC since 2013, and the updated contract stipulates a starting lease rate of $15,226.58 with 3% increase per year until 2028, at which point there is an option to extend the agreement to 2033.
Council voted unanimously, 8-0, to postpone the lease resolution to its Jan. 4, 2023 Finance Committee meeting. Council Vice President Ladel Lewis was absent.
Voted to postpone city-owned property sale, settlement agreements, and appointments among other things
Aside from postponing the golf courses’ lease agreement, Council also pushed two potential appointments to the Housing Commission Board and one to the Building Code Board to its next Governmental Operations Committee meeting.
Councilman Eric Mays cited a lack of specific addresses for the candidates as his cause for concern.
“I’m looking at the resume and it says ‘fourth ward,’ so I guess I could take that as a Flint resident,” Mays said. “But I’m wondering why they think it’s okay to bring these appointments with no address listed.”
Councilwoman Judy Priestley noted the candidates may have asked that their addresses not be publicized, nevertheless, Council voted unanimously to postpone possible appointments of Ashnee Young and Nadine Roberts to the Housing Commission Board and the appointment of Kristin Stevenson to the Building Code Board until its next meeting.
Councilmembers Eva Worthing, Lewis and Murphy were absent for the vote.
Other postponements included:
- A resolution to sell vacant land on Blades Avenue to Glenn’s Happy Homes, LLC for $1,002. Flint’s Planning and Development Director Suzanne Wilcox asked for the postponement as the property had been “handled” as residential side lots but should have been handled as commercial side lots before coming to Council.
- A partial settlement in Matthew Baker et al v City of Flint et al and settlement in Megan Brewer and Travis Copeland v City of Flint et al. Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer said he was not present for the initial executive-session discussion of the case settlements, so Council voted 7-0 to postpone both to the next Finance Committee meeting with the addition of an executive session to review them. Mays and Lewis were absent for the vote.
- Special orders regarding the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System/Pension Fund contribution, the House of Esther, privately-owned blighted homes, police chases, the City’s pipe replacement program, and the Pulaski Street fire.
- A discussion item on police officer cars.
- A resolution regarding a public hearing to amend the rules governing Flint City Council. One of the proposed amendments involves requiring Council’s meetings to end by 10 p.m. unless the rule is suspended by a two-thirds vote. The Governmental Operations committee, during which the resolution was postponed, was called to order at 10:20 p.m that evening.
Council also voted to postpone an ordinance amending the job description and qualifications of Flint’s City Administrator position to its next Finance Committee meeting. Among other things, the amendment would codify a salary range of $99,000 to $150,000 for Flint’s City Administrator, a title currently held by Clyde Edwards, who spoke on his own behalf.
“There are city managers that don’t attend council meetings. There are city managers that do a lot less in terms of responsibility,” Edwards told Council. “I can show you various city managers who don’t even have public safety as a part of their responsibility. So my oversight is wide, vast and very committed.”
According to Council’s ensuing discussion, members said Edwards’ salary is already at $99,000, though that came by a grant-funded raise. Some also noted that Edwards’ title is not “City Manager” but “City Administrator,” and multiple councilmembers took the opportunity to note grievances with Edwards’ performance.
Both Councilwoman Tonya Burns and Mays cited that Edwards had not required city administrators to attend Council meetings to support their questions or requests for information.
“I’m not finna vote to reward what I see to be wrong in the city at this time,” Mays said, also noting his recent concern about potential Open Meeting Act violations during Edwards’ tenure. “I ain’t never seen a Finance Director tell the Council, who controls the purse strings, ‘I’m not coming to finance meetings,’ and y’all sit by and allow it and condone it and now want a raise.”
Council voted 7-0 to postpone the ordinance amendment to its next Finance Committee meeting. Lewis and Pfeiffer were absent for the vote.
Approved partially funding the Office of Public Health into 2023, a grant for park maintenance and purchases for city vehicles, traffic engineering, insurance and an auditing service
While Council postponed many items on its committee agendas, during its regular meeting, the body also passed multiple resolutions. Those were:
- An amended resolution to provide the city’s Office of Public Health $121,249.25 for its 2023 budget. During committee, the City’s Chief Resiliency Officer, Lottie Ferguson, confirmed the amount would ensure no layoffs in the department’s first quarter. Council agreed it would plan to review the rest of the requested funding, originally amounting to $421,249.25, next year.
- A fund transfer from Council’s equipment account to its professional services account in the amount of $15,000 for auditing services from Rehmann Robson, LLC.
- A purchase order for vehicles, to be used by multiple city divisions, from LaFontaine Automotive Group in an amount not to exceed $1,728,345. Per the provided quotes from LaFontaine, the amount will cover 37 vehicles.
- A purchase order for replacement vehicles from Berger Chevrolet, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $450,000. Per the resolution language, the amount will cover eight vehicles for the city’s water pollution control facility.
- A purchase order for Siemens Mobility, requested by the city’s traffic engineering department, in the amount of $100,000.
- A contract for The Lighthouse Group to provide high-valued vehicle and equipment coverage through Starr Surplus Lines Insurance at a cost not-to-exceed $168,861.58.
- Acceptance of a $500,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for city park maintenance.
All of the above passed with votes of 6-0. Lewis, Worthing and Murphy were absent for the votes.
Failed to take action on amending an agreement with the Great Lakes Water Authority
Council lost quorum before taking action on an amended agreement with the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), which the city’s department of public works director Mike Brown noted could save the City $18,000 to $36,000 annually if adopted.
Councilmembers were dismayed at learning, during their Dec. 19 meeting, that if they didn’t vote to approve the amended agreement that evening the City risked having to accept the agreement’s prior terms. However, none of the members had been provided the prior agreement to review as part of their informational packets.
“I don’t like stuff being jammed down our throat,” Councilman Pfeiffer said after learning about the deadline for a vote. “I’m gonna request this now: hopefully anytime we have any contract amendments that we get the original contract so that we can compare with it.”
Pfeiffer noted the GLWA contract amendment asked Council to vote on deleting a section in its entirety, but, he lamented, the council was provided no way to reference what the original section discussed.
“I mean… what is, where are we—we can’t vote on that,” Pfeiffer said.
City administrators later emailed copies of the original contract to councilmembers during the meeting, but Mays noted he would like a hard copy which he did not receive over the course of the night.
Ultimately, Council lost quorum before being able to vote on the matter anyway, as both Council President Allie Herkenroder and Priestley left the meeting after asking Mays to stay “germane” to the resolution when questioning city officials.
Mays responded to Priestley, who had assumed Herkenroder’s chair duties after her post-midnight departure, “You can leave too.”
According to Janell Johnson, City Council Administrator, the Council’s lack of action means the resolution “will be postponed back to the meeting it came from—in this case, City Council. The next meeting is Monday, Jan. 9, 2023.”