Earlier this week the Rhino Times posted an article, “Public Not Informed Of Public Hearing.” The agenda for the Tuesday, June 18 meeting stated that a public hearing had been held on June 4 on the “proposed economic development appropriations” but the agenda for the June 4 meeting had no such public hearing listed and no public hearing was held.
From the City Council discussion at the Tuesday, June 18 meeting it was evident that even the city councilmembers had been unaware of what those appropriations were, because councilmembers had a number of questions about the amounts different nonprofit economic development agencies were receiving.
As it turned out, a public hearing on June 4 on the appropriations which total $1 million would have been helpful, because councilmembers could have gotten the information they wanted and voted on approving those appropriations.
Instead the City Council voted to delay consideration of those appropriations for 30 days.
As is often the case with this City Council which rarely meets, different councilmembers had different bits of information about the various appropriations to economic development agencies. It’s one of the reasons that governments, businesses and other groups trying to work together have meetings, so that everyone involved has the same information and they can hold a rational discussion. Since this Council doesn’t meet very often, it spends a lot of its time together discussing what could unkindly be described as gossip and more kindly as secondhand information.
City Manager David Parrish spends an inordinate amount of time at meetings, deftly correcting misconceptions.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower started the discussion of the economic development appropriations by saying, “I would like to continue Item 43. I’d like for the city manager to reevaluate some of the items in the budget for possible adjustments and modifications.”
Both Councilmembers Tammi Thurm and Justin Outling asked for more information about why Hightower wanted the item continued.
It took a while for councilmembers and Parrish to get it out of Hightower, but she said she thought Piedmont Business Capital Loan Fund should get $100,000 more than the $300,000 appropriated.
Hightower never named the organization that she thought should get less, but since only one organization is slated to get $250,000, that narrows it down to East Greensboro Now which according to Hightower received $100,000 more than it asked for. She questioned why any nonprofit would be given more money than requested.
Thurm said, “It’s highly unusual to allocate funds in excess of what was requested.”
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy, who is the executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, said her concern was that if the nonprofit organizations were expecting a big check in July continuing the matter for 30 days “could put them in a difficult position.”
Budget and Evaluation Director Larry Davis said contracts had to be signed, and he didn’t see a continuance as causing a problem.
Councilmember Goldie Wells said, “I have a problem with that word reallocate.” She added, “That means somebody has to lose something so somebody can gain something and I don’t like that.”
Outling asked for a Council work session on the appropriations during the 30 day continuance. Mayor Nancy Vaughan said the Council would have one.
However, most of the work sessions proposed by Outling never take place.