By Tom Travis
The City Council approved a budget amendment for a grant extension of $550,000 from the C.S. Mott Foundation and passed a resolution for a tax abatement on a commercial property on the east side of Flint at a Tuesday evening meeting..
The Council also scheduled an electronic/video Special City Council meeting for 1 pm. Thursday, May 28 to discuss the 2021/2022 city budget.
After the meeting Mayor Sheldon Neeley scolded Council President Monica Galloway for her behavior and treatment of longtime City Clerk Inez Brown.
C.S. Mott Foundation adds $550,000 to a grant for The City of Flint
The Council voted to approve the extension of a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The grant was originally awarded in 2017 to the City of Flint for $417, 199, bringing the current total to $800,955.
A letter from the Mott Foundation attached to the agenda packet explained the breakdown amounts of the overall grant: $350,955 is to be used for salaries, $375,000 is to be used for consultants, and $75,000 is to be used for equipment in the water plant.
City Administrator Clyde Edwards explained the additional amount will be placed into the budget to fund the city for a grant writer, salary for the City’s Economic Development team, a portion of the salary for the Department of Public Works Director and the “Rebuild Flint the Right Way” program.
Six council members voted yes; Councilpersons Jerri Winfrey-Carter (5th Ward) and Monica Galloway (7th Ward) voted no, and Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward) abstained.
General information regarding the Mott Foundation grant procedures and other grant related questions can be viewed at their website.
Ashley Furniture set to receive tax abatement to move into old Target store on Lapeer Road
The council approved the establishment of an “Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District” (OPRD designation) for Ashley Furniture, presently located on Linden Road in Flint Township, to relocate their retail and warehouse space in the old Target store at 3701 Lapeer Road (at the intersection of Center and Lapeer Roads).
Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) was established by the Michigan legislature in 2000. It allows for a tax exemption for a property during a period of 1 to 12 years. The resolution for the Lapeer Road property passed last night sets the tax abatement for a 5 year period.
Before a property can enter into an OPRA agreement the area where the property exists must be established first as an OPRD. The resolution at last night’s the City council approved the area at 3701 Lapeer Rd to be established as an OPRD.
State law gives cities permission to establish OPRDs within the city limits. There will be a public hearing about this tax exemption at a later date, according to Suzanne Wilcox, Director of Planning and Development. Vote 9 yes
Special Council Meeting is set for Thursday at 1 p.m. to discuss 2021/2022 City Budget
Two Special Meetings are set for Thursday, May 18 The first is a Special City Council Meeting set to begin at 1 p.m. specifically to discuss the 2021/2022 City Budget.
The second meeting, requested by Council President Monica Galloway (7th Ward), is a Special City budget session and is scheduled to begin “immediately following” the first Special City Council Meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to allow the City Council to continue discussing the budget and amendments to the budget.
How the public and press can participate in Thursdays meetings:
The public may participate in the special council meeting by emailing comments to CouncilPublicComment@cityofflint.com no later than 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting at 1 p.m. The emailed comments will be read by the City Clerk.
The public and members of the press may listen to the meeting online by live stream at www.youtube.com/user/spectacletv or through Start Meeting Solution by dialing 617-944-8177.
Those with disabilities may participate in the meeting by the above mentioned means and by emailing a request for an accommodation to CouncilPublicComment@cityofflint.com with the subject line Request for Accommodation.
Anyone with further questions about participating in the council meeting may call the City Clerk’s office at 810-766-7418.
Mayor Neeley scolds Council President Monica Galloway for “flippant and ageist” comments to City Clerk Inez Brown
Four hours into the six-hour meeting that lasted from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m., Council President Monica Galloway began a dialog with City Clerk Inez Brown which turned into a heated exchange.
Many council members jumped in, gaining the floor by saying “point of order.” Councilpersons Jerri Winfrey-Carter and Eric Mays both advised Galloway to “calm down.”
The heated dialog centered around an email between Galloway, Brown and Councilperson Kate Fields after last week’s city council budget hearing or as some are calling it “a session” because it was not an official City Council meeting.
The Galloway exchange prompted an email scolding from The City of Flint today designated as a press release for immediate release.
“Mayor Sheldon Neeley is denouncing Council President Monica Galloway for her mistreatment of City Clerk Inez Brown during the Flint City Council meeting on May 26, 2020,” the statement read. “Ms. Galloway repeatedly talked over, interrupted and spoke condescendingly to Clerk Brown for 8 minutes until other Council members intervened.”
The email statement quoted 2nd Ward Councilperson and Council Vice President Maurice Davis as saying, ““You’re the chair; you’re not the dictator. You’re out of order, Madam President. You are disrespecting the clerk,”
The statement continued that “Ms Galloway rejected his point, but the rest of City Council stood firm and successfully overrode her decision” to refuse to allow Brown to continue an explanation.
“Ms. Galloway explained her behavior to her fellow Council members with a flippant and ageist response,” the city statement continued, saying that Galloway asserted, “I am challenged with working with Ms. Brown from time-to-time, and I have to talk to people who help me work things through,” and that Galloway added, “It’s like working with your grandmother.”
Quoting Mayor Neeley, the statement continued, “Ms. Galloway’s actions are especially concerning because the Clerk is appointed by the City Council. No employee should be treated in that disrespectful manner, especially one who has honorably served this community for more than 20 years.
“This is a place of business and even disagreements must be handled professionally. Shame on Ms. Galloway for this abusive treatment of staff,” Mayor Neeley said.
The City email ended, “Inez Brown has served as City of Flint clerk since 1997 and with seven different City Councils. She was allowed to finish answering the question after Galloway was ruled out of order.”
The email included a statement from Inez Brown herself.
“For me to hear this kind of thing over one small meeting where no decisions were made, just dialogue took place, is really appalling,” she said.
EVM Assistant Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.