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Technical problems mar city council meeting

For the third city public meeting in a row, participatory virtual access again posed the greatest barrier to active discourse Thursday.

While Finance Chairman Mike Scales chaired the finance committee meeting via Zoom, he confirmed he also could not hear most of the discussions, explanations from city employees or proposals made unless they were also provided by virtual participants, i.e. John Bentz, of Pickering Associates and Steve Elliott, wastewater superintendent.

Bentz, Elliott and what could be heard of Eric Lambert, project manager within the city engineering department, reviewed an early proposal for surveying and CAD services to begin planning a water, sewer and road replacement project for Front Street between Putnam and Sacra Via streets.

Other discussions Thursday during the combined meeting scheduled with Streets Committee and Lands, Buildings and Parks Committees were only intermittently heard by virtual attendees and thus answers to Times’ questions concerning the sub-recipient agreements proposed for coronavirus-related federal stimulus aid, channeled through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Community Development Block Grant were not clear.

Marietta Development Director Mike Gulliver said four out of five proposed sub-recipients for the federal stimulus funding have approved an agreement through their nonprofit boards to receive the reimbursement funds, though he did not note who those four entities are, simply stating that Buckeye Hills Regional Council is the hold-out because its board of directors has not yet met to ratify the memorandum of understanding.

Gulliver also confirmed that the entirety of the budget approved through council vote and city processes for the fiscal year 2020 has still not been accepted by HUD for dispersement, let alone expenditure and that the COVID-stimulus funds only amend the 2019 federal funds. This delays the community development block grant spending by at least a year in the midst of unclear planning for the required three-year outlook for 2021-2023.

Council also met to discuss a proposed reorganization of labor but the voting body and city administration did not make participatory access available for the discussion.

Copies of files discussed during the employee relations committee meeting were not received for participatory access prior to nor during the meeting.

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