Council delays action on use of funding
By Ginger Livingston
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
The Greenville City Council delayed action on the use of $100,000 for youth programming and energy efficiency upgrades after a councilwoman's raised concerns that the money wouldn't reach the truly needy in west Greenville.
Councilwoman Rose Glover worried that allowing families with higher incomes to qualify for grants that would fund energy efficiency improvements could take money from low-income homeowners, during discussions at Monday's Greenville City Council meeting.
During negotiations for the purchase of land on Albemarle Avenue for a fraternity house, the city obtained $100,000 to be spent for west Greenville residents.
Staff proposed dividing the money so that $50,000 would got to fund youth development programs and $50,000 to energy efficiency improvements.
Staff recommended individual grants of up to $10,000 be given to homeowners for improvements ranging from new windows to insulation and even replacement of heating and air conditioning systems.
Tiana Berryman, city housing administrator, recommended properties with income up to 120 percent of the area medium income be eligible. For a one-person household that income would be $56,600; for a four-person household the amount would be $80,800. The income of all adults would be factored into the income calculation.
Along with her concerns that the money should be reserved only for low-income property owners, Glove said the income of the homeowner should be the only one included in the calculation because adult children come and go from their parents' homes.
There also was a question about how much money should go to each project. Glover mentioned several times the need to winterize properties in order to lower utility costs.
City Manager Ann Wall said the weatherization of properties usually involves installing insulation and the replacement of a few windows, and it would cost less per house than providing energy efficiency improvements. Mayor P.J. Connelly asked if the city could use Community Development Block Grant funding for weatherization projects. Berryman said it could be the focus on the next application process.
The Greenville Utilities Commission also makes $150,000 available citywide for energy efficiency projects.
Wall asked if the council would willing to approve funding for the youth development programs because staff wanted to start the application process in September and award the grants by Oct. 4.
Staff is proposing that the West Greenville Community Grant would offer up to $5,000 to nonprofit and other civic organizations that benefit youth living in the West Greenville Redevelopment Area.
Glover said she wasn't ready to vote on the proposal because when discussions about using the money first occurred, it was recommended the funding go to the Jackie Baseball Robinson League and Pitt Lightning, a youth football team.
Berryman said the organizers of both programs were consulted when developing the application process to make sure the requirements wouldn't exclude them.
The Council unanimously approved the delay action so further discussions and modifications could occur.
Also at Monday's meeting:
- The Council approved the police department's request to apply for a $30,956 grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The vote came after no one spoke at a public hearing.
Funded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the grant is named after a New York City police officer who was shot and killed in his patrol car while guarding the home of a cooperating witness in a drug gang prosecution.
It’s made available to help local departments purchase equipment and supplement programming needs. The bureau designates grants based on the size of a jurisdiction and crime rate.
If approved, Greenville police will use the money to fund the city’s portion of the ShotSpotter program, which uses sensors to triangulate the location of gunshots so officers can respond faster. The goal it to reduce the number of incidents involving gunfire.
The city doesn’t have to match the funds.
- Greenville City Council took no action following a nearly three-hour closed session where it conducted performance reviews for senior staff at the end of its Monday meeting.
“We owe it to senior level staff members to provide them with a good evaluation of their performance,” Mayor P.J. Connelly said after the Council finished shortly before 10:30 p.m.
“We gave them some constructive criticism along with the great attributes they exude.”
Only three city employees are direct hires of the City Council; the city manager, the city attorney and city clerk.
The City Council voted to go into closed session at 7:35 p.m. Council members moved from the council chambers to a smaller conference room where discussions began about 10 minutes later.
Human Resources Director Leah Futrell participated in the majority of the meeting.
City Manager Ann Wall left for the evening sometime after 8:30 p.m. City Attorney Emanuel McGirt left shortly before 9:30 p.m. Clerk Carol Barwick left shortly after 10 p.m. followed by Futrell 10 minutes later.