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Finance committee discusses stimulus; HVAC, homelessness

Another $443,204.45 in federal stimulus funds is up for grabs within Marietta city government as legislators and administrators search for eligible spends of extra funds distributed to city coffers.

The funds, received Monday, are a part of approximately $1.2 million in CARES Act dollars the city has received and must be slated for expenditure by Dec. 31.

Marietta City Council’s Finance Committee heard this news Monday and first looked to the city engineer for ideas on how to spend the extra cash.

City Engineer Joe Tucker said he has received quotes for upgrades to HVAC systems within three city buildings (304 Putnam St., City Hall and the Armory) and Councilman Bill Farnsworth agreed to listen to those proposals when he next schedules a Lands, Buildings and Parks Committee.

But with snow falling in Marietta not three hours following the meeting, the legislators were also questioned concerning the use of the funds for seasonal emergency shelter and/or warming center equipment to aid those who find themselves homeless this season.

Homelessness aid, including temporary warming shelters, have been eligible to receive such funding by other cities focusing CARES Act dollars this year (See 2020-2021 City of Detroit Homelessness Solutions RFP here)

This year the city faced cold snaps that focused eyes on homelessness before the pandemic hit, with Councilman Geoff Schenkel looking into city zoning laws and hopes of aiding those living in abandoned structures within the fourth ward in January.

“But that doesn’t bring you guys in from the cold tonight,” he told one group in January. “It hurts not to have that answer for you.”

Councilwoman Susan Boyer said Monday that she has discussed three-night stay vouchers through the municipal court with Judge Janet Dyar-Welch, but that those discussions are preliminary.

The committee also blessed for legislation to be written transfers and appropriations concerning the following:

¯ Multiple retirements of senior/longtime employees in multiple departments this year.

“We got to pay these people off, that’s the key,” said Finance Chairman Mike Scales.

¯ A transfer to cover the salary of the newly created information technology position created two weeks ago by vote of council.

¯ $342,000 to be backed out of the appropriations within the city’s recreation fund.

“In order to not be over-appropriated at the end of the year we have to back out everything because … they’ve only brought in maybe $5,000 this year with the pool closed,” explained City Auditor Sherri Hess.

The exercise of “backing out” funds from what was appropriated helps the financial closure of the calendar year to marry between actual spending and what was authorized to be spent throughout the year or in the initial budget for the year.

Boyer asked for clarification about expenditures on the pool and Hess clarified that any funds spent to fix portions of the city asset are coming out of the capital improvement fund, not the recreation fund.

Council next meets today at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the unresolved issues concerning the federal Community Development Block Grant program which has stalled in completion this year due to inconsistent and incomplete documentation and planning provided by the development administrator Mike Gulliver concerning eligible spending of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.

That meeting is scheduled to be held in the community room of the Armory, 241 Front St., not via teleconference, according to Council Clerk Jennifer Starkey, and it was not advertised on the city website as of press time Monday.

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