Special Council Meeting 8/19/21

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In pre-meeting informal chat, it was noted that there are applications for the Traffic Commission so that a quorum is expected soon. The city website looks nice with the new branding revisions.

With a quorum present, the meeting began. Phedra Nelson was excused from attendance, all other members present.

Eric Osterberg was introduced. He noted that he will be spending the weekend unpacking and that John Hampton will be running this meeting as he has been working on these projects.

Chief Hampton started noting that Don Boyce was unable to attend tonight’s meeting, so his expertise will be missed. The CDBG grant application is due August 30 and must have a special hearing within 10 days. [Note: The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is a federal program that provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons. As such, the monies are released to be used within specified areas and under specified ways. Eligible areas are determined by census tract, using figures from the 2010 census.] Areas in Ferguson that are eligible are shaded in green on the map shown.

Community Development Block Grant eligible areas within Ferguson are shaded in green.

Hampton stated they have been trying to identify the worst streets, seek to get the most bang for the buck. While there is concern to try to address streets in all three wards, the money received will be limited. Hampton also noted that the speed humps they are looking at are not the traditional speed bumps (which destroy the suspension of large trucks over time). They have no expectation of doing all the streets the wish to do, but plan to seek to do partial streets and the worst sections. Streets under consideration are Marvin, parts of Ruggles, and possibly Arline, as well as Marguerite, Walters and Rolwes.

Hampton noted that CBDG was desired for the worst of the worst. The separation of Public Works and Parks has permitted more potholes to be addressed. The city’s Public Works also has a slab replacement machine that can be used for “not as bad” streets that cannot be included in CDBG. The grant would be about $155,000. Council Member Heather Robinett noted that it would be best to use the grant money for streets that are not structurally sound. The final decision on which streets would be made at the special hearing and Eric Osterberg will be reviewing possible selections with Don Boyce.

Dave Musgrave covered the work done on a Special Events form, which is a fillable pdf available on the city website. A person or group would submit a request and each department head would add costs according to the event’s needs. The City Manager can reduce or discount the rate based on the benefit to the community, as well as whether the event is city partnered or city sponsored. The expectation is to make the new rates effective January 1, 2022.

Council members raised questions concerning the need for limited liability policies for private events, requiring that events use licensed companies/services, and the need to address failure to adhere to the contract for the event and replacement costs of equipment provided. Toni Burrow addressed an instance where someone changes their application rather than pay fees, such as borrowing something from another city and claiming it as a gift in kind. (See “Mayor Obtains County Parks Trailer for Campaign Supporter” for the event referred to in the meeting.) Burrow advocated for use of SOPs with language against such abuses, She further advocated there should be a mock-up of what should have been for the Juneteenth event, but what was not. Burrow stated “We need that information to get people on the right page.”

Musgrave also noted they were aware that they need to build in costs for overtime of police and fire departments. Further discussion noted that the deposit needed to be in place to protect against those who might abuse the process or make unauthorized use of the city logo. Musgrave did not that he did not want a $500 fee to appear mandatory for events such as block parties, where the cost can be adjusted appropriately.

Mitchel Bailey presented on the progress of the pilot program for Property Restoration. Bids were received for the RFP placed in July from four developers and two individuals. One of the original 13 properties on the list had paid taxes and was no longer eligible for the program. Of the 12 remaining properties, 11 received bids. Information on the program is available on the city website. Several council members commented on their pleasure to see this pilot in progress, as rehabilitation and development of homes was needed over demolition of abandoned homes whenever possible.

Bids received and awarded for Property Rehabilitation. Key to first column: PD: potential demo; D: previous demo; C: City owned; P: Post third tax sale property. Awarded bids for properties are highlighted.

Hampton asked to postpone discussion on the PSA for a later meeting. Discussion on the public hearing for the CDBG was held, and it was determined that Chris Crabel would verify requirements for when the meeting should be held.

It should be noted that this meeting was greatly a result of the work John Hampton has placed in his time as Interim City Manager. Although unexpectedly thrust into the position, Chief Hampton has made tremendous progress in a short time and leaves the position in a better state than he found it when he started. We appreciate his openness regarding mistakes and blunders that have occurred during his time in charge, and have greatly benefitted from his orientation to public service and team building.