After a lengthy discussion, the Greensboro City Council voted 7-1 to allocate $2 million to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum with some contingencies on Wednesday, March 23 during its annual retreat.
The motion made by Councilmember Goldie Wells added the condition that the Civil Rights Museum provide the information requested and it be analyzed to the satisfaction of city staff before the money is allocated.
City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann voted no and City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter was absent.
Councilmember and mayoral candidate Justin Outling was the most vocal opponent of allocating the funds before receiving requested information from the Civil Rights Museum.
Hoffmann said, “I need to look at their financials and look at those losses. As much as anyone on this council, I want the museum to be successful.”
Hoffmann added, “We got the financials today. I personally need time to go through them.”
City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba gave a presentation on what the Civil Rights Museum was requesting and information he had requested from the museum but had not received. However, Jaiyoba had the media placed so far away from the City Council that many of the details of what he said could not be heard.
But the request was for a grant of $1 million this year to be used at the closing to purchase the building next door on the corner of Elm Street and Market Street along with the parking lot behind the building that extends the length of the block from Market to February 1 Place.
The purchase of the building is part of the Civil Rights Museum’s effort to become designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The museum is requesting an additional million to be paid at $250,000 a year for four years, for a total of $2 million. Jaiyeoba said that how that $250,000 a year would be used was unclear.
Outling said that he had requested additional information similar to the information requested for an economic development incentive. Outling said he wanted to know how many jobs would be created that would pay over $15 an hour, noting that the City Council had a policy of requiring jobs pay a minimum of $15 an hour.
Outling said, “I completely agree with the concept. It is a great idea but we should do our due diligence as we do for all projects.”
Jaiyeoba suggested that the City Council approve the allocation and then if the requested information was not provided, or found unacceptable, that the city could take the money back.
Outling said, “The idea of giving them the money first and then getting the information is backwards.”
However, Outling did agree to vote for the motion to allocate the money contingent on receiving the information requested.