Erie City Council, city administrators and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development met Wednesday to address the “conflict of interest” issue that is holding back $2.8 million in funding and agreed to hold a special meeting next Wednesday at 9 a.m. for a revote.
According to HUD, there isn’t just one, but three possible conflicts of interest in regards to City Council passing the Community Development Block Grant.
City Councilman Mel Witherspoon said himself, along with Sonya Arrington and Curtis Jones Jr., are being identified as conflicts of interest due to their relationships with some of the organizations receiving funds.
Sonya Arrington proposed an amendment to the CDBG funding, which City Council approved in early May with a 4-3 vote.
That amendment included $6,000 for the Booker T. Washington Center, where Arrington’s L.E.A.D. organization is housed.
She said her program is funded through the Office of Children and Youth and that the program just happens to be located at the Booker T. Washington Center.
Witherspoon says Arrington and Jones have been advisted not to vote on the CDBG proposal in next Wednesday’s meeting.
Witherspoon, who has resigned from the JFK Center Board of Directors, said he is uncertain whether or not he will be able to vote.
Walter Haglund, City Council’s consultant, said HUD identified three conflicts of interest and can’t accept City Council’s CDBG proposal.
Kim Green, Director of Economic and City Development for the City of Erie, said she will prepare the original funding plan for the meeting.