LIMA — An ordinance establishing a citizens review board for community development block grant allocations was rejected 5-to-3 by Lima City Council Monday night despite receiving a recommendation from council’s neighborhood concerns committee.
“The intention may be good, but I don’t think it’s going to achieve the desired outcome,” Council President John Nixon explained before voting “no” on the ordinance. “We have processes in place that encourage, seek and request public input. It’s up to the public to participate.”
Also voting no were Jon Neeper, Sam McLean, Rebecca Kreher and Todd Gordon. Councilors Derry Glenn, Carla Thompson and Jamie Dixon voted in favor of the ordinance.
Dixon said the city’s current process determining CDBG allocations — which are apportioned to communities by the federal government to help low- to middle-income residents — doesn’t adequately hear from those residents who would most benefit from the funds. By instituting a board, Dixon said the city would put stronger processes into place to ensure low- to middle-income residents would be heard.
The board’s role would be to give recommendations on which programs CDBG dollars would fund. The final vote on allocation levels, however, would still be held by Lima City Council.
“We have some councilors that believe that’s what in place is working. It’s working, but it also has room for improvement,” Dixon said.
“Outreach hasn’t worked,” Thompson said. “Does that mean they don’t participate, or do our methods need to be revised?”
Thompson also pointed out that the three councilors who voted for the proposal also represent wards with the highest poverty rates in the city.
A citizens review board is not a unique idea to Lima, Dixon said. Large metropolitan areas in Ohio, such as Toledo and Columbus, have already instituted the practice when determining CDBG allocations.
“We’re not trying to recreate the wheel. We’re trying to bring the wheel here,” Dixon said.
Despite failing on second reading, the ordinance setting up the board is set for a third reading during council’s next meeting on May 20.
In 2019, Lima has been allocated $1.031 millionin CDBG funds with an additional $293,299 in HOME funds. The application deadline to utilize those funds is May 17 at 5 p.m. After city administrators review the applications, city council will be voting on which program gets those funds in early summer.
In related news, Councilor Rebecca Kreher motioned to move two ordinances that would purchase and outfit a SWAT van for the Lima Police Department to council’s safety services committee during Monday night’s meeting.
“I would just like to make sure the police department is getting the best that they’re asking for,” Kreher said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.