Council Reviews Nonprofit Funding, Impact of Union Station

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The Raleigh City Council met twice Tuesday, covering issues ranging from the approval of grants by the Human Services Agency to the altering of non-discrimination policy language by the Human Relations Commission.

The first meeting scheduled for council members was a work session, where two groups completed presentations that outlined two key issues that will be moving forward for fiscal years to come.

Kristin Larson, Budget Manager for the City of Raleigh, conducted a brief presentation outlining the changing process for how nonprofit organizations will receive grants in the future. According to Larson, the Human Services Agency will adopt a process that promotes consistency, transparency, and the perception of fairness for nonprofits seeking grants.

The nonprofit Raleigh Business & Technology Center came under fire last summer following a city audit

City of Raleigh

The nonprofit Raleigh Business & Technology Center came under fire last summer following a city audit

In addition, there will be possible financial criteria for the amount of money received, notably that the amount of the grant should not exceed 25 percent of the budget of the organization receiving the grant.

For organizations currently receiving more than that percentage—specifically the Southeast Raleigh Authority and African American Cultural Festival—there will be a “3-year step down” process, according to Larson, in which the two organizations will need to increase funding from private sectors to keep the full amount of grant money they’re receiving currently in the years to come.

The second presentation in the work session focused on “Market Impact Evaluation for Union Station.” Gil Johnson, Project Manager-Transit Facility, highlighted that their evaluation of case studies revealed that building a mixed-use transit center has no negative impact on private sector development, that there is no decrease in surrounding land rates, and that a mixed-use transit center is an “attractive selling point to many target end users.”

While the presentation focused on successful mixed-use transit centers across the globe, questions were raised by the City Council about mixed-use transit centers that had failed in the past, most notably the bus transit center in Charlotte that is surrounded by parking lots with little possibility of economic growth.

A rendering of the new Union Station

Union Station will likely have a positive economic impact on the surrounding area

Johnson admitted it was difficult to find cases that failed.

“We wanted to find a [project] that had failed and say, ‘This is why it failed,’” Johnson said.

They were unable to do so, he said, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that failed projects were often difficult to locate either through the Internet or otherwise, simply because they failed and lacked any public presence.

The regular session of the City Council was fairly uneventful, though numerous items were passed in the consent agenda that are worthy of note. They include:

  • The establishment of a public hearing for November 5 surrounding the issuing of $21 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for the Bluffs at Walnut Creek Project, a proposed 198-unit apartment project.
  • Acceptance of a $250,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources for development of the Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve Park.
  • Authorization to the City Manager to execute two grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to (1) purchase equipment that will assist the Crash Reconstruction Unit and (2) cover the cost of the Drive While Impaired Squad for travel costs relating to training and costs for promotional items.
  • Authorization of a budget amendment for $33,000, which AT&T has donated for support of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math educational activities for the youth aged 14 to 21.
The Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve Park recently received additional funding

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve Park recently received additional funding

One special item included in the agenda concerned the change in non-discrimination policy language of the City of Raleigh. It now reads that “The policy of the City of Raleigh is, and shall be, oppose to any discrimination based on actual or perceived age, mental or physical disability, sex, religion, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial or marital status, economic status, veteran status, or national origin in any aspect of modern life.” (Underlined portions contain the revised language.)

The next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday November 5.

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