The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) put out a RFP for cities seeking economic revitalization through the National Resource Network (NRN). The NRN is a component of Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative which was awarded a $10 million dollar grant. NRN provides technical support to cities, who seek access to experts, on how to address the challenges in their cities: growing inequality, high unemployment, under-performing schools, aging infrastructure, blight and vacant properties. The caveat is they must pay 25% of NRN’s fee, which amounts to $64,000. How is this “grant” helping cities seek economic revitalization, if they have to pay for it?[adsenseyu2]
The item was brought back for a third time, after being pulled twice in November, weeks before the consultants were to get started. The council has finally approved the item, 4-1, at their last meeting. The item states the city could either provide the funds themselves, which will come from “miscellaneous”, or secure a commitment of funding from a third-party. The third-party was not identified. The payment would need to be made within 60 days of the contract being signed.
The press release announcing the application process, made no mention of cities having a share of cost. (press release)
The agreement basically allows the consultants to come in and assess the city and give the council and leaders a strategy of what to do. It also ensures their email/call is responded to in a timely manner. Think of it as a private, social media network for professionals to share and learn from one another.
The consultants and city agrees that if they increase their scope of work, and costs increase, the city will be responsible for 25% of said increase.
The Network will execute direct assistance plan between November 13, 2014 and August 28, 2015. As part of the direct assistance plan, the Network will provide the following deliverables to the City:
•Evaluation of City’s service-delivery model and budget analysis review with City. Discussion of preliminary findings and issues.
•Citywide departmental operational review and development of high-level findings and opportunities for discussion with Council members, City Manager and key executive staff.
•Background information on real estate market conditions and operational benchmarking.
•Compton Boulevard stakeholder meeting.
•Proposed Compton Boulevard improvement actions and executive prioritization session. Implementation plan and identification of funding opportunities.
•A final report detailing findings and recommendations. A presentation will be made at direction of City.”
Is the dissenting vote due to: cost, who’s paying or the validity of the services being provided? Why would the city need to hire consultants, to perform the same work staff can do, and a well qualified mayor who is an urban planner by profession?