Citizens District Council Minutes 03-03-2009

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Citizen’s District Council Meeting
City of Muskegon CDBG
Conference Room 203
Muskegon, Michigan
Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The meeting was called to order by Patricia Montney at 5:34 p.m.


Roll call was taken by Liz Parker.

Present:             Patricia Montney, Ned Carter, Virgie Jackson, Thomas Pastoor,
                     Amy Varnado, Stephen Gawron

Excused:             Marcia Hovey-Wright, Dan Rinsema-Sybenga

Absent:              Addie Sanders-Randall,

Staff Present:       Wilmern Griffin, Liz Parker


Tom Pastoor made a motion to approve the minutes from the last meeting (January 29,
2009). Ned Carter seconded. Motion passed.


     Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and YouthBuild Grant
Pat Montney started the discussion by asking the new members if they had received a
copy of the By-laws, which they indicated they had. The By-laws state the group is
responsible for reviewing HUD grants. Wil Griffin indicated the YouthBuild Grant was
from the Department of Labor while the NSP was a gray area as the money went from
HUD to MSHDA, for MSHDA to administer under their own guidelines. Pat Montney
stated she had viewed previous minutes and they did show the grants were discussed.
Pat Montney indicated the February 10 City Commission meeting agenda package
stated the grants had been reviewed and supported by the CDC. This process has
been handled this way for a long time. She asked if anyone had any discussion. Tom

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Pastoor said the information was shared with the group but they were not given
specifics of what was being proposed. Prior, the neighborhoods were given a survey of
how they felt the money should be spent. Wil Griffin shared with the CDC about the
grant and he envisioned it would be used in the targeted neighborhoods with the highest
foreclosure areas, but no specifics. The group spent 12 hours discussing and reviewing
CDBG/HOME grants, which are less money than what NSP is getting. The group
should be able to read and understand what is being applied for and it was a perception
issue. If it’s being said we read it, reviewed it and supported it, the CDC should be able
to read the grants in their entirety. Wil Griffin said he never meant to give the
impression the group had read the grant. What he said was that the information had
been reviewed by the CDC. He also pointed out the money for the NSP is going to be
spread over a four-year period, not just for one year, whereas the CDBG/HOME funding
is annual. He felt the CNS department can’t be put into a situation of being micro-
managed by the CDC. Tom Pastoor said he was trying to be open minded about where
citizens have input into this process. He is thankful for the neighborhood input. He
feels if the grants cannot be used for certain activities, the CDC should be advised. Pat
Montney said Wil Griffin has always given the group sufficient information and that the
recommendations have always come from the discussions. Wil Griffin also mentioned
that some of the information from the surveys was used for the NSP such as giving
people money to move into the City and assist with purchasing a house. Wil Griffin said
the money can be used to move into neighborhoods to a certain extent. The grant does
include down-payment assistance and addresses blight. Also, the Mayor has been
concerned about the limit of 80% AMI. While other grants use 80% AMI, the NSP will
allow up to 120% AMI, which should attract urban pioneers. The information from the
surveys was used in the guidelines that CNS had for the NSP. This is only the first
round and CNS had to use the parameters they were given. Hopefully, additional
money will be available to use for non-profits and other moneys for the City. Tom
Pastoor indicated he was going to a conference in Grand Rapids regarding non-profits.

    HUD Funding Amounts
Pat Montney asked if Wil Griffin had heard from HUD on the actual CDBG/HOME Grant
funding amounts. Wil Griffin said he had not heard anything more from HUD except to
continue to do calculations using last year’s funding amounts.


     CDBG Stimulus Package - $267,182
Wil Griffin said he was notified the CNS office would be given a $267,182 CDBG
Stimulus Package. As of yet he has not been given the guidelines on how this will be
handled and what it can be used for. Pat Montney wanted to know if the CDC would
have to meet again after the CDBG Stimulus Package guidelines have been
announced. Wil Griffin said yes. He does not know if this will be for the non-profits. He
had heard it might have to be used for employment, but nothing official has come from
HUD yet. Amy Varnado wanted to know if the department has previously received a
bonus or stimulus package before and Wil Griffin advised no, this is new territory; CNS
only receives their normal allotment each year. Tom Pastoor wanted to know if this was
just CNS money. Wil Griffin said the money would be administered by the CNS office,
but it is CDBG funds only and might come from the County and then disbursed. Steve

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Gawron said the money first goes to the State, and they will make determinations
depending on what guidelines are developed. They need to determine what are truly
stimulus activities vs. inadequate use of tax payer’s money. Wil Griffin said as of this
point in time he doesn’t know when the money will be released, if it will be part of the
regular allotment, etc. He also said Norton Shores is scheduled to receive a similar
package of $33,000 and Muskegon Heights of $133,000.

     Action Plan 2009 - 2010
Everyone had previously been sent a copy of the Action Plan. Wil Griffin said the
CDBG/HOME Grant numbers are based on the Administration Recommendations.
Those numbers will be updated after the City Commission makes their final decision.
He also said since CNS has made their objectives and goals for new infill and
rehabilitation of homes, they will not be doing those this year; however, they will
probably be doing some through the grants. CNS is switching the funding from infill and
rehabilitation to the Weatherization Program. He explained the Action Plan tells HUD
what CNS will be doing this coming fiscal year (June 1, 2009 – May 31, 2010). He
referenced the $267,182 Stimulus Package; however, he is waiting on instructions on
how the money must be used. Pat Montney had questions on the Action Plan. Page 6
#3 – Street Assessments – with the grant request change from street assessments to
actual street improvements, road jobs need to be on streets in neighborhoods that are
51% low-moderate income. That puts that funding into 70% CDBG funding vs.
infrastructure. Wil Griffin agreed; however, if the street improvement is in an area over
51% low-moderate income, then it would have to come out of the 70% funding and go
into infrastructure. It was his understanding from Administration that the street
improvement grants would be used for low-moderate income target areas and Steve
Gawron agreed. Page 7 #1, - Citizen Participation – Pat Montney wants it added that
the CDC minutes are now available online at the City’s website for community review.
This will increase public awareness. Pat Montney wanted to know what was next in
reports that are due. Wil Griffin said the Action Plan was due in April. The CAPER is
due in August. The five-year Consolidated Plan is not due until next year. Wil Griffin
said with the new administration, he wasn’t sure what their requirements were going to
be. The reports weren’t actually required until 1995 under the Clinton Administration.
He also pointed out in the Action Plan that the graph shows the funding is constantly
going down, while there has been a significant increase in our low-moderate income
areas. Pat Montney asked about the orange map in the Action Plan. Wil Griffin said the
target area used to be just the central neighborhoods, but over the years, the area has
spread to almost all of Muskegon since 2000. Pat Montney made the recommendation
that the City Commission address what actually are the target areas. Pat made the
motion to make the recommendation to have the City Commission review the target
areas to show what they actually are today. Amy Varnado seconded. The motion
passed. Wil Griffin will email Bryon, get some information and email the CDC when he
gets more information.


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Wil Griffin mentioned he is trying to come up with ideas on how to assist the community.
If anyone has any ideas, not necessarily for CDC, please let him know and maybe he
can find a way to get funding.

Pat Montney asked if there is any way they can expand on Energy Star through HUD.
Wil Griffin said that is a requirement of the NSP. He said it is a level of energy
conservation that HUD is recommending on new construction and rehabilitation to save
on energy. Wil indicated CNS had not done that in rental rehabs; that is something they
need to do, but they are now doing it on lead projects and new construction. It’s a little
more expensive, but it’s one of the things Dick Butler of Habitat for Humanity talked
about in his review in order that the homeowner’s heating bills are significantly lower.
Wil Griffin mentioned CNS had sent out a survey to the summer weatherization program
recipients. The feedback is positive. Pat Montney asked if the new weatherization
program would be available for MSHDA funding. Wil Griffin said there might be a
possibility but he was not sure. He said MSHDA doesn’t have any funds as they get the
money from someplace else and then makes funding available.

Tom Pastoor asked that Wil Griffin review the NAM concerns from last year as they
would be a good fit for board members and the role of being a board member. Wil
Griffin said Cathy Brubaker-Clarke would be addressing NAM regarding what issues
NAM had and what can be done to help NAM run more smoothly. Tom said there are a
lot of things that are not bricks and mortar that come into play in the community. He
also thought racial reconciliation and race relations are important issues that need to be

Pat Montney mentioned that at the last City Commission meeting Commissioner
Spataro made the remark that because of continued hard financial times and shrinking
revenues, that the CDBG money should not be used for the non-profits but to go to
economic development. Steve Gawron said over the years the funds are becoming less
and less. It was suggested that maybe the non-profits could go on a limited cycle to
allow for other organizations to also apply for funding. It was also mentioned that some
organizations have overlapping activities or that some organizations are part of a
national organization or are getting help from the largest health care organization. The
organizations did a better job this year, during their reviews, pinpointing the work they
are doing in Muskegon. Pat Montney said it is her understanding that HUD says there
has to be a working relationship with the CBO’s, economic development has to be in a
target area and there has to be help with employment. Economic development wouldn’t
create much of an impact with the money Commissioner Spataro is talking about, as
every $10,000 of CDBG funds used, one job must be created. Stephen Gawron stated
the remark was made by one individual and not from a discussion and has not been
brought up with the City Commission. Pat Montney asked about the 21,000 served on
Objective #6 in the Action Plan. Wil Griffin said 80 – 90% is from CBO’s. Amy Varnado
wanted to know if the grant applicants knew what the recommendations are to date. Wil
Griffin advised her they were sent a copy of the grant spreadsheet and notified of the
February 24 City Commission meeting with the public hearing and the next two City
Commission meetings: March 10, where the Commission will make their preliminary
recommendations; March 24, where the final determinations will be decided. At the
February 24 City Commission meeting, the Mayor invited all the applicants to come to

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the March 10 meeting, even though it is not technically a public hearing. The only
applicants that addressed the City Commission on February 24 were the three CHDO’s,
Legal Aid and Dwana Thompson from Affirmative Action from the City of Muskegon for
the summer internships. Ultimately the City Commission has the final say in the


There will be no April meeting, unless something comes up with the Stimulus Package
funds. The group will be advised accordingly.

Patricia Montney adjourned the meeting at 6:28 p.m.

Respectively submitted,

Liz Parker
Community and Neighborhood Services
City of Muskegon

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