By Tom Travis
Despite a nine-hour meeting, the Flint City Council failed to adopt a budget Monday night, thereby violating the city charter which calls for the budget for the next fiscal year to be approved by the first Monday in June.
The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. and stretched into the early morning hours of Tuesday, ending just after 3 a.m.
In the face of no budget adoption by council, Mayor Sheldon Neeley released a terse statement Tuesday afternoon stating,
“It is unfortunate that the City Council has again been overrun by its lowest common denominator. Constant delays and interruptions have consistently created unproductive marathon meetings. Monday’s meeting went until 3 a.m. and still the City Council failed to adopt a budget. They now stand in violation of their Charter-mandated responsibility.”
Let’s be clear: The administration did its job. The City Council has had more than two months and more than 20 meetings to consider our proposed budget. The permanent obstructionists and dysfunctional Council members have failed us all by their constant pursuit of petty politics.”
I ask all residents to join me in calling for these few obstructionist members to uphold their oath of office, stop their politicking and put the best interests of our community first.”
Council discovers improper bid process in waste collection contract with Republic
Before the council began the budget discussion, Councilperson Monica Galloway (7th Ward) called for the council to discuss Republic Services, contracted by the city to collect waste. Galloway said she has received numerous calls and complaints voicing frustration about waste sitting at constituents’ curbs. Other councilmembers chimed in citing similar complaints from voters.
Galloway questioned Shelbi Frayer, City of Flint chief financial officer (CFO) about the details of Republic’s contract. Frayer disclosed she had discovered in mid-May 2021 that the bid process for a new waste collection contract had been performed incorrectly.
Frayer explained that when bids are opened a public meeting is to be called, so that members of the public may be present, the City Clerk’s office is to have representation in the room for the bid openings. Frayer explained she discovered these protocols were not followed.
According to Frayer, only the former purchasing manager (Joyce McClane, who has recently resigned) and two other staff members from the purchasing department were present when the bids were opened.
Frayer explained to the council that, “to protect the city from any legal issue or complication” she decided to start the bid process again to insure that all the protocols were followed correctly. Frayer added that new bids are in process.
Frayer and City Attorney Angela Wheeler added details that a pre-bid meeting was held on Feb. 17 and the bid opening meeting occured March 9.
Galloway pressed for more details, stating that Frayer has been with the city since March 2021 and it is now June. Galloway noted the Republic contract ends at the end of June.
“The council has been discussing the waste pick-up contract for over a month and nobody had any of this information to share, and now our community is at a heightened level of frustration.” Galloway said.
The city’s contract with Republic ends June 30. Frayer confirmed the city is in negotiations with Republic for a 90-day contract extension. East Village Magazine (EVM) contacted both Gary Hicks, municipality services manager for Republic and Frayer for details on the 90-day contract extension. Neither have responded as of yet.
Resolutions passed to fund 2022 and 2023 budget
A necessary part of adopting a budget are resolutions seeking funding for the budget through millage increases. Here is a list of millage increases adopted last night that will fund the budget:
- Operating millage rate of 19.10 mills on property – adopted with a 9-0 vote.
- Operating millage rate of 1.8806 mills for the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) – adopted with a 9-0 vote.
- Assessment for street lighting costs – adopted with a 7-2 vote.
- Master fee schedule which includes water and wastewater rates (the complete 18-page Master Fee Schedule can be viewed beginning on page 24 of the meetings agenda booklet here at this link. – adopted with a 5-4 vote.
Waste collection rate increase amendment fails
One amendment that sought to increase waste collection from $167.47 per residence per year to $250.84 was shot down quickly by council members who whipped out their calculators to see that the increase would be over $80 per household.
Department of Public Works directors Michael Brown and John Daly were both on the line to explain the details of the increase. Daly explained that with a decrease in population, an increase in foreclosed properties and anticipated cost increases, the change was necessary.
The number of parcels assessed for the waste collection rate went from 33,141 in 2019 down to 32,002 in 2020.
Councilperson Santino Guerra made a substitute motion that would not include an increase in waste collection rates but would keep the rate where it’s been since 2019, $167.47. Frayer noted that the rate in 2018 was $150.47.
The amendment was adopted, keeping the waste collection rate at the same rate, $167.47 per residence.
Council meets Wednesday to adopt budget
The council will reconvene Wednesday, June 8 at 4:30 p.m. to try and adopt the city’s budget, after which the council will meet in committee session.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at email@example.com.