City Council Meeting December 4, 2012 on the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area designation for the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative.  RES-12-216

Sponsors:  Grants

Attachments:  2012-2016 Consolidated Plan Revised Nov 2012

Legislative History 11/27/12  Finance & Administration Council Committee   Recommended to Council

 

 

Mayor Harold Perrin was absent due to illness and City Councilman Chris Moore acted in his place.

 

City Attorney:  Resolution 12-216- A RESOLUTION APPROVING THE REVISED fiscal year 2012 thru 2016 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT CONSOLIDATED PLAN TO INCLUDE A NEIGHBORHOOD REVITALIZATION STRATEGY AREA (NRSA) DESIGNATION FOR THE NORTH JONESBORO NEIGHBORHOOD INITIATIVE.  Whereas the City of Jonesboro grants department submitted 2012-2016 consolidated plan in 2011, and whereas the city council approved said plan, whereas it has now been determined that a NRSA designation is necessary for the continued progress of the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative.  Whereas the Fiscal year 2012-2016 consolidated plan must be revised to include this designation which is included in the fiscal year 2013 CDBG Action Plan, therefore be it resolved that the City Council of the City of Jonesboro Arkansas  that section one be revised for fiscal year 2012 thru 2016 Community Development Block Grant consolidated plan has been reviewed and approved by the mayor and city council of Jonesboro, Arkansas.

 

Chris Moore:  Ok, What is the will of the Council?

 

Mikel Fears:  I think there needs to be a discussion on that.  There were several concerned individuals.

Gene Vance:  We probably need a motion for approval

City Council:  I’ll move to adopt

City Council:  Second

City Council:  Second

Chris Moore:  All right, any discussion?

 

Mikel Fears:  Could we get Heather to come up and I would like to report that we visited with her before the meeting and I think there is a lot of public confusion, and I’ll admit I was one of them, that’s not really understanding what this is, and what the consolidated plan is.  Separate that from the 2030 plan.  So Heather could you, and Agenda 21, Heather come up and kinda go through what you told us before the meeting.

 

Clements:  Yes sir, I’d be glad to.   I can either go through it, or you can ask questions, whatever you would prefer.

 

Mikel Fears:  Well first of all, could you kind of separate what the 2030 plan is from this 2012-2016 consolidated plan?

 

Clements: Yes sir.  The City of Jonesboro is an entitlement city from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Basically, what that means is that we get our Community Development Blog Grant funds directly from HUD and Department of Housing and Urban Development.  And so, those are called CDBG funds, and every five years we have to submit a five year consolidated plan to HUD and get that approved by them on how we plan to spend those funds over the next five years.

 

 And we did that last year in 2012 or in 2011 for the 2012-2016 Consolidated plan.  At that time we were unaware that we would need this Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area designation in that plan, and so they have been gracious enough to let us come back to you and ask for a revision in that five year plan.  I think it should be noted that this CDBG Consolidated Plan for 2012-1016 has nothing to do with Vision 2030, the twenty year comprehensive plan for the city of Jonesboro.  They are two separate documents, nor does it have anything to do with Agenda 21.  Is that the clarification that you wanted?

 

Mikel Fears. Yes, most of the emails we received today people were urging us to vote no because it is playing into the hands of Agenda 21 and the comprehensive 2030 Vision Plan.  I just wanted you to tell us publicly this had nothing to do with Agenda 21 and Jonesboro Vision 2030.

 

Clements: They are definitely separate documents, and separate issues.  And, would you like me to explain what a  NRSA status is.

 

Darrel Dover:  Jonesboro 2030 is a comprehensive plan that we have developed as a city that covers many things

 

Clements:  Correct

 

Darrel Dover:– from housing, to health, education, multiple facet things that we spent a couple years working on. Ok, now, the Block Grant money - we have had that for years.

Clements:  Yes

 

Darrel Dover:  Every year we have to give them a five year plan, as you stated, where were are going to spend the money and most of it goes to areas that are economically disadvantaged in the city and they have strict rules as to how to spend the money for whatever you could. So what you are asking us to put into this is a way to make it less restrictive for the city?

 

Clements:  Well, the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative as it is defined by HUD right now we can only use our public service funds from CDBG to help fund that initiative.  What that means is the total allotment every year that we get is about $500,000.00 a year.  We can only use 15% of that total allotment to go toward public service projects.  So we have a lot of public service projects in North Jonesboro, one of them, this status designation will allow us to take North Jonesboro out of that 15% public service allotment and spend those funds with fewer restrictions.

 

Darrel Dover:  So what would be some examples of public service, things we would be spending money for that we couldn’t have unless we get this designation.  Or is it more the amount of money?

 

Clements:  It’s more the amount and where it is placed on the CDBG action plan. Like I said we can only spend up to 15% of our total allotment towards public service projects.  We have so many organizations in this community that we want to fund like  NEARAN (North East Arkansas Regional Aids Network) and Habitat for Humanity, and Foundation of Arts, the organizations in our community that contribute greatly to the services to Low and Moderate Income  citizens. So if we are able to get this designation we can pull the North Jonesboro Neighborhood  Initiative  out of that 15% which frees up more money for the other organizations and gives us fewer restrictions on how we spend the money for the North Jonesboro Initiative  and puts the citizens back in control.

 

 The North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative is a resident citizen driven plan; they have a strategic plan; they have their own board; they raise their own money; they are making great progress. This puts the power back into their hands which is actually where it belongs.

 

Darrel Dover:   So they would petition the block grant money to spend in a certain way and the city would have to approve it or disapprove it, right?

 

Clements:  The funds still will come through the city, yes.

 

Darrel Dover:  Right, but it just allows that more, to have a little more freedom in asking for the amount of money for certain things they want done.  It still would still have to come through the council and…

 

Clements:  And we would still adhere to all policy and procedures, both local and federal for the procurement bidding process.

 

Darrel Dover:  So how did it get confused and I am not sure what Agenda 21 is exactly, so what is that. 

 

Clements:  I am very uninformed on Agenda 21 actually.  I looked it up today to see if I could learn a little bit about it.  From what I could see, it was established in 1992 by the United Nations and it has several sections on things that they want to implement.  And it is a non mandated, voluntary initiative; but I know very little about it, and the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative has nothing to do with that.

 

Chris Moore:  So help me to kinda simplify it down.   The 2012-2016 Consolidated Plan, this 117 page document has already come before the council.  We voted it and approved it.

 

Clements:  Yes sir

 

Chris Moore:  Where the 2030 plan has not yet come before the city council.

 

Clements:  That’s correct. 

 

Unidentified City Council mbr.  That’s what we asked sometime back to have committee meetings and hearings to discuss it. 

 

Clements:  And there are more hearings to come on the  Vision 2030 plan,  and others can probably  speak more accurately on that than I can, but again this has nothing to do with that plan.  

 

Darrel Dover:  So we are trying to amend a plan that has already been voted on…

 

Clements:  Correct

 

Darrel Dover:  simply to allow more flexibility in the city to distribute the federal money that is given to us.

 

Clements:  Yes, and that is money we are going to get anyway, we’re going to get…  regardless of this Neighborhood Revitalization strategy designation we are going to get based on the  formula, a certain amount of money every year from HUD. This just gives us more flexibility on how we can spend it.

 

City Council mbr.  So it’s just opposite from what everybody one is thinking and instead of tightening restrictions it is loosening restriction.

 

Clements. I think so.  I think there was just a little bit of confusion.  Nothing…

 

City council mbrs. You probably received the same emails we got today, correct.

Clements:  I did get some emails, yes sir.

 

City Council mbr:  Is there any more questions?  Thank-you

 

City Council mbr:  Anybody else in the audience want to address this subject?

 

City Council mbr:   Maam please state your name and address for the record.

 

            Pelley:  My name is Debbie Pelley, 2209 Indian Trails Street, Jonesboro

 

And I do like to support my city officials when I can, but I do want to tell you that I have spent hundreds of hours studying United Nations Agenda 21, Jonesboro Vision 2030, and all the documents that have to do with it.  I probably have read almost every word of the 700 page Jonesboro Vision 2030.

 

I guess one of the first questions – I know she said she [Clements] did not know what Agenda 21 was, and one of my first questions I would have of you is how do you know this is not Jonesboro Vision 2030 if you have not read the 700 pages.  And I have…(inaudible)… plan tonight and it is exactly what I thought that this was all about  because when you study all this stuff you begin to understand the buzz words and you know where it is coming from.  I knew almost, in fact I was on the Paul Harrel program today,  and I knew almost that this was trying to get this  designation in order to get the funds and with those funds comes all kinds of strings.  I have already read, like I said, United Nations Agenda 21 and Jonesboro Vision 2030, and I have a ten page paper comparing Agenda 21 and Jonesboro Vision 2030 that I wanted to give to you city council members.

 

And  this is what concerns me the most that we were led to believe there would be hearings on the Jonesboro Vision 2030 draft before it was implemented.  If you vote this in tonight, you will have implemented a great deal of the agenda of Jonesboro Vision 2030.  And I say that because  in the Housing Section – it [Jonesboro Vision 2030] has 167 pages and  there are several pages in the Jonesboro Vision 2030 dedicated to this North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative.  You will find many, many pages in the Jonesboro Vision 2030 outlining what all these principles are that is in this revitalization issue.

 

  And I will tell you that last night just very quickly I went to Google, and I looked up Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative and immediately it came up that the Obama administration is behind all this.  It delineates all the things in there, it’s a real, real long article that if you read it and Jonesboro Vision 2030 you will see that its principles and ideas are identical. So that is why we are saying if you vote this in tonight you will have implemented a big portion of Vision 2030 without having read it. 

 

Now, I don’t think – I would like to ask you this, but I know that is not appropriate – how many of you have read Jonesboro Vision 2030?  You probably haven’t, and I understand that.  You have jobs.  I can spend my full time on it when I need to.  Now here’s some quotes from Jonesboro Vision 2030, and what I would like to ask you is if you haven’t read it, I would like to ask you, how do you know what is involved in this designation.  I understand you need grant money, but do you know what you are agreeing to when you do that? 

 

And here are some things in Jonesboro 2030 Vision that I want to ask you to think about and see if you agree with these and if you know which are part of this agreement and which are not.  One thing Jonesboro Vision 2030 is quite partisan and autocratic in this pro government quote:  and one thing it says, “Increasingly people argue that “if only government would get out of the way” our communities and businesses would thrive.  In reality, however, it is through government that key strategies are envisioned, defined and enacted.” Many people in our community want to go backwards away from government control not toward more government control.  So the very philosophy in Jonesboro Vision 2030 is to get all the grants you can get and increasing government control over everything.  And if you will read it, you will find this is true.

 

Now here is starting a new…on page 110 on that housing study is where you will find this (inaudible) on the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative.  And these quotes have to do with that initiative as well as other areas, about four or five at least, areas that Jonesboro Vision 2030 sets out to revitalize, and here’s one of the quotes from it.  “

 

Strip development is avoided by encouraging the creation of a number of "village centers," termed mixed use activity centers, at certain locations throughout Jonesboro. Activity centers are intended to be mixed-use nodes/campus-style developments, having commercial, office, institutional, and high-density residential uses clustered together in a pedestrian-friendly, village-like manner.”  Now that brings to my mind visions of China and how all the workers live in these real small dwelling in high rise buildings next to the factories.  Now that may sound far fetched to you, but if you have read all this stuff on Agenda 21, it is not far fetched at all.  And the (inaudible) villages, that would (inaudible) four or five areas in Jonesboro.

 

Chris Moore(acting mayor):  – Mrs. Pelley, I don’t mean to interrupt you but the only question before us tonight is how we are going to reallocate the money that we are already given under the CDBG grants.  We are not asking for any more or any less.  This re-appropriation and designation will allow us to have more control over how we spend our own money.  What you are talking on does not address that particular point.  And that’s the…

 

Pelley:   I just didn’t want…what you are asking to do tonight is to  include a new Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area designation for the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative, and everything I am talking about is in Jonesobro Vision 2030 on the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative.

 

           Chris Moore(acting mayor):   It is my understand that Ms. Clements just said that we were taking it and just changing the designation to take it out of the 15% so that we could have more money freed up to use on other projects, and not to allocate any more or any less money or…

 

Pelley:  Do you know what that designation means?

 

City Council Chris Moore:  The designation for what Ms. Pelley?

 

Pelley:  The Revitalization Strategy designation.

 

City Councilman Chris Moore: I could probably have Ms. Clements tell it to you here if you would like.

 

Pelley:  I am not interested in hearing what she has to say.  She hasn’t studied it like I have.

 

City Councilman Chris Moore: I am not interested in hearing about the United Nations;  I am asking you…we have to address this one particular issue

 

Another City Council member:   It’s just an amendment to what we have already voted on.

 

Pelley:  I understand that – I understand that.  But you also admitted exactly what I said that she… you wanted the grant, and the grant has strings attached to it how do you know….

 

            City Councilman Chris Moore: Please I call this to order.  We are not asking for any more grants or other money than we already have.

 

            Pelley:  Why do you need the designation then?

 

City Councilman Chris Moore: Because it changes the funding formula on how we spend the money.

 

            Pelley:  Is that not the grant?

 

            City Councilman:  No

 

            Pelley:  So it changes the funding, so how do you know how the funding is going to be spent?

 

City Councilman Chris Moore:  Because we have a committee who will decide on the local level how we are going to spend that money.  That is what Ms. Clements just said.  It will give us better flexibility to spend it how we see fit not how the government sees fit. We are not getting any new grants – this is a grant that we get every year and we always have.

 

Pelley:   I know you have gotten the grant, but why do you need this designation, why do you need it right now? I understand that so (inaudible) that is so you can spend the money the way the government wants you to spend it.

 

City Council mbr:  Because we will have a  committee who will decide how we will spend that money.  That is what Ms. Clements just said.

 

City Council mbr:  There is a 15% that is…

 

City Council mbr:  It’s there,  it’s there no matter

 

City Council mbr: Is there anyone else [who wants to speak]  I think that she has used her five minutes.

 

           City Council mbr:  Well I think that Ms. Clements expressed it exactly how it was.  It simply re-established how we have control to spend this money.  Not the government.

 

Pelley:   Let me make one last statement.  She also did say that she had not studied United Nations Agenda 21 then how does she know that Jonesboro Vision 2030 is not like Agenda 21.

 

City Council member Chris Moore:  The same way she said this has nothing to do with Vision 2030.

 

Pelley: It’s so you can spend the money which is controlled by the government and controlled by this designation. 

 

City Council mbr:  That’s not true.

 

City Council mbr; Thank-you for your comments Ms. Pelley.  Anyone else that would like to speak on this subject?  If not I have a motion and a second.  All in favor say aye.

 

Unanimous Ayes - At least no one responded for the No vote.