City Council and Administration Face Potential Standoff Over ARP Funds | News, Sports, Jobs

YOUNGSTOWN – Disputes between the city council and the administration could lead to a stalemate in the spending of Youngstown’s U.S. bailout funds.

The city council on Wednesday decided to file $3 million in ARP requests with the administration: $2 million for a small business loan fund and $1 million for a commercial frontage program.

Council referred both proposals to its Community Planning and Economic Development Committee for discussion before either could be considered for a vote.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Nikki Posterli, his chief of staff and director of community planning and economic development, did not attend Wednesday’s council meeting or a meeting of the council’s finance committee on Monday to discuss the requests.

On Wednesday, Council approved $2,019,699 in ARP funding requests for projects in their neighborhoods. That money comes from the $14 million in ARP funds the city council has given its seven members — $2 million each — for such projects.

With these approvals, the board allocated approximately $3.25 million of that $14 million.

However, the Board of Control — made up of Brown, Chief Legal Officer Jeff Limbian and Chief Financial Officer Kyle Miasek — has only approved one board-backed ARP allocation to date. It involved the purchase for $160,000 of a former McDonald’s restaurant at 2525 Market St. to turn it into a police station.

Councilman Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward, said the administration was deliberately withholding council-backed ARP allocations.

“I think it’s a game of cat and mouse,” he said. “The Council’s ARP money is being helped because they want to put the administration’s money first. It’s a game. There’s no reason to block ARP funds from the city council, except that the administration is trying to make things difficult.

Oliver said he sees no reason for the city council to approve other ARP proposals backed by the administration.

“Why do you want us to give you something back? ” he said.

Councilman Anita Davis, D-6th Ward, said, “Meanwhile, our plans are not there. What is the point of launching these projects if the administration does not follow up on them? »

Brown has repeatedly said that several of the council-backed allocations lack the information needed to move forward and may not meet federal guidelines for the use of ARP money, he does not will therefore not submit to the Board of Control for a vote.

Council members say they sought advice from the administration and either received very little feedback or were ignored.

The Board voted on Wednesday in favor of four ARP allocations sponsored by its members.

Three were from councilman Samantha Turner for a total of $1,294,699 and one from Oliver for $725,000.

Oliver’s project is a revitalization effort for a YNDC on Glenwood and Rockview Avenues and High and Bernard Streets.

Council also approved legislation to spend $300,000 in ARP money on capital improvements to the playground and outdoor recreation facilities at Hillman Park, also known as Falls Playground, on Falls Avenue from from a $10.5 million pot he created for parks and recreation projects.

This proposal was initially an allocation of $572,551 of Oliver’s $2 million. Oliver said if more than $300,000 was needed, he would first seek the extra money from the Department of Parks and Recreation budget. If that doesn’t happen, Oliver said he’ll use some of his ARP allowance for the job.

Turner’s legislation called for spending $1,004,699 to support “various programs offered by Youngstown CityScape specifically focused on revitalizing the 3rd Ward,” according to the order.

Specific projects were not included in the legislation.

Asked about them on Wednesday, Turner declined to comment except to say she knows what they are but was not going to share that information.

Despite Turner’s refusal, The Vindicator obtained a copy of his original CityScape funding application.

It includes money for improvements to Wick Park, including the running track, concrete for the picnic pavilion, installing gardens around the recreation center, renovating the center’s kitchen, l improved lighting and concrete slabs for a disc golf course.

It also included repairing sidewalks and curbs, planting and beautifying, purchasing tools and supporting various “north side greening and clean-up projects”, as well as providing matching money to provide long-range planning for the Arlington Heights, Stambaugh and St. Elizabeth Hospital neighborhoods in Youngstown.

Other projects include technical assistance and materials at the CityScape location in Briel – which is not in the 3rd Ward – and a seasonal market in the neighborhood, $25,000 in matching funds to raise $50,000 in operating funds for CityScape from the Youngstown Foundation and many other projects, including a beautification plan for the Belmont Avenue Corridor and marketing services for the neighborhood.

The Board also approved $150,000, sponsored by Turner, for Ohio Urban Renaissance, located on North Avenue, to renovate the facility and fund programming services for at-risk youth in the areas of education, responsibility, community involvement and healthy lifestyles. , mentoring and workforce development.

The council also agreed to Turner-backed legislation to spend $140,000 in ARP funding for Building Neighborhoods of Youngstown to provide “roof repairs and rehabilitation services for qualified residents” in its neighborhood.

The city received $82,775,370 in ARP block funding. The city council allocated about $46 million in funding, though most of it went unspent.

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