The agenda for the Tuesday, March 2 virtual meeting of the Greensboro City Council is, as usual, extremely light.
From April through September, the meetings held virtually because of the pandemic were even shorter than usual because people were not allowed to comment during the virtual public comment period. During the same time period people were allowed to comment at virtual public hearings on specific agenda items, but not during “speakers from the floor” when regular folks are allowed to comment on any topic they desire.
Beginning in 2018, the first meeting of month had been designated solely for a public comment period, often called speakers from the floor, and ceremonial items.
In December 2019, when the calendar was being set for 2020, the City Council included consent agenda, general business and public hearing items on the agenda for the first meeting of the month.
Adding regular agenda items to the first meeting of the month was an attempt to even out the length of the two City Council meetings each month, but it hasn’t worked out that way despite requests from city councilmembers.
The first meeting of the month tends to be short, often less than an hour, while the second meeting can be as long as four or five hours. Before 2018, the City Council held two regular business meetings a month and both allowed speakers from the floor.
Along with ceremonial items and the consent agenda, which are supposed to be routine housekeeping type items that require no discussion and are all supposed to be passed with one vote, the agenda for the Tuesday, March 2 meeting includes one general business item – a resolution to divvy up $8.6 million the city received from the US Treasury Department for rental and utility assistance.
The resolution awards $1.3 million to the Greensboro Housing Coalition, $3 million to Greensboro Urban Ministry and $800,000 to Housing Consultants Group for emergency rent and utility assistance.
The resolution also awards $3.4 million to the Salvation Army for homeless prevention assistance.
The resolution authorizes Greensboro City Manager David Parrish to enter into contracts with those entities for those amounts.