By Tom Travis
At an eight-hour long meeting Monday night, the Flint City Council was updated by the city’s accounting firm requesting a greater reimbursement, heard from the city’s trash collector about COVID effects on yard waste pick-up, and received a follow-up about the September fire which destroyed the Pierce Park community center.
City’s accounting firm requests a change order and says “year end financial statement is on schedule.”
Doug Deeter of Rehmann accounting firm spoke to council requesting a $7,500 change order in their accounting services because the original scope of the project expanded to include more auditing services. Deeter said, “based on our agreement with the city anytime the scope changed in order to do the audit the city properly and effectively we would provide a change order to council.”
Deeter explained a change order is necessary because the City of Flint is considered a “high risk” financially and that classification requires further federal award compliance auditing procedures. “In 2019 the city expended $23 million in federal awards and in 2020 the city expended $37 million, a $14 million increase in federal awards. These increases are causing the additional work that was not incorporated into the base fee”, according to Deeter.
Combined with the “high risk” factor and the added millions of dollars in federal awards the audit needed to be expanded, according to Deeter. “Many, many findings in last year’s audit play into the risk assessment of the city” Deeter reminded the council.
Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward) asked about the year-end financial statement that is due to the State of Michigan by Dec. 31. Deeter confirmed the financial statement is in progress and on schedule to be delivered on time.
Covid effects trash collection drivers – 15 drivers out due to positive Covid tests or exposure
Gary Hicks, Municipal Services Manager with Republic Services, addressed the council concerning complaints from residents about yard compost “not being picked up for two and three weeks.”
Hicks explained Republic, too, has felt the brunt of the Covid pandemic. At one time during the pandemic, Republic had 15 drivers who either tested positive or were in quarantine due to exposure to the coronavirus. Hicks reported that now they have only three drivers out with positive Covid diagnosis.
Republic says yard waste is “completely caught up.”
Hicks said as of Wednesday “We are completely caught up. Our intention is to be completely done at the end of this week. We will evaluate at the end of this week to see where the compost collection is at in the city.”
He added that the recent unusually warm weather patterns and so many residents at home due to the pandemic have caused an “unprecedented” volume of yard waste placed at the curb for pick up. Hicks said during the high volume pick up days Republic had five or six trucks out picking up just yard waste.
“Normally we’d have yard waste pick ups of four or five bags. Recently we have often encountered houses with 150 bags during this high volume period,” said Hicks.
The administration has announced, and Hicks confirmed, that yard waste pick up in the city is completed this week. No more pick ups will occur.
Hicks added, “I would like to say thank you to the city for their patience.”
EVM spoke with Hicks on the phone Tuesday about the composting pick up process. Hicks explained that collected compost is delivered to Fick’s landscaping on Corunna or Hill Roads.
Pierce community center fire
Councilperson Galloway questioned City Administrator, Clyde Edwards and Fire Chief, Raymond Barton about fire that destroyed the Pierce Community Center (2302 Brookside Drive, in the 7th Ward). Chief Barton explained that 90 per cent of the building was destroyed in the fire.
The Michigan State Police arson investigation unit has come in to conduct the investigation. MSP dogs were used to smell for accelerants and none were found. It was termed as a “suspicious fire.” Chief Barton explained that it now lies in the hands of the City administration.
Edwards said the property has been secured and fenced off for safety, adding that paperwork for the insurance claims are in the hands of the adjuster.
Newest member of the Human Relations Commission approved
A Human Relations committee is being formed through the Office of the Ombudsperson. In the most recent City of Flint budget a Human Relations Commission was funded in order to fulfill Flint City Charter. The Commission will be made up of nine members, one from each ward and appointments are made by city council members.
The council approved Ron Luczak, a 4th Ward resident, to serve on the Human Relations Commission.
Pay as you Stay
City Council voted 8-0 to opt into a new program called Pay As You Stay (PAYS). The program is meant to help homeowners struggling to stay in their homes by providing affordable payment plans as well as reducing the amount of delinquent taxes owed.
In a follow-up email from City Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, Amanda Trujillo, said residents interested in participating in the PAYS program would start by contacting the Genesee County Treasurer’s office at 810-257-3054.
Meeting procedure and recesses
The last several city council meetings have been recessed for later dates. The Monday, Nov 30 meeting, was recessed from the previous Monday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. The meeting on Nov 30 lasted more than eight and a half hours, ending just before 2 a.m.
Just before midnight newly elected Council President Kate Fields (4th Ward) left the meeting putting Vice-President Maurice Davis (2nd Ward) in charge.
Monday’s meeting was contentious with many disagreements, especially between Council President Fields and Mays (1st Ward). Heated discussion also occurred between Galloway (7th Ward), Fields (4th Ward), Mays (1st Ward) and Worthing (9th Ward).
By the end of the eight-hour meeting only six council members remained (Eric Mays (1st Ward), Maurice Davis (2nd Ward), Jerri Winfrey-Carter (5th Ward), Herb Winfrey (6th Ward), Monica Galloway (7th Ward) and Allan Griggs (8th Ward).
The city council meeting will reconvene on Thursday, Dec 3 at 5:30 p.m.
EVM Managing Editor, Tom Travis, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org