Grant funds diversion under the microscope

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City Attorney Tim Weaver explained at Monday’s council meeting that he had prepared a draft ordinance according to council’s request requiring approval if grant funds “received by any Commission, Board, or Sub-entity of the City” were subsequently redirected from the original intent of the grant.

Alderman Kristi Kendrick immediately moved to amend language to stipulate council would be apprised immediately upon any decision to redirect grants funds and the receiving party should provide a status update within four months if a grant is awarded.

Mayor Butch Berry responded there are often extraordinary circumstances beyond control of the city entity which would make the four months’ reporting requirement unwieldy, such as the city just receiving word after four years of grant funds becoming available for storm drainage repair near Flint Street.

Kendrick insisted council nevertheless should be kept informed of progress on grants it approves.

Alderman David Mitchell refocused attention to what he said was the purpose of the ordinance, which was to avoid diverting grant funds from the original purpose or at least keeping council informed, and that, in his opinion, was what Weaver’s ordinance did.

Kendrick, however, said Parks had received grant funds that had been sitting around for six months. “We could be using these funds,” she protested.

Berry was quick to correct her. “These funds are restricted,” and contended that council was beginning to micromanage.

Alderman Bob Thomas insisted if the funds could be redirected, there were other opportunities available in town for using the funds, yet he was clear that Parks should have no time limit hanging over its head if it used funds as they were intended.

Kendrick cast the only Yes vote on her motion to revise certain language in the proposed ordinance, and alderman Terry McClung’s motion for a slightly different amendment got a 3-3 vote with Berry opting not to vote. Mitchell then moved to assign a number to Weaver’s original ordinance and put it on its first reading, and the vote was 6-0 to approve the first reading of Ord. 2264.

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