MILTON — Though the debate over the future of Main Street Milton continues, the City Council has given its official vote of confidence to the program.
City Manager Randy Jorgenson issued a memo to the council last month addressing concerns over MSM. He offered 10 options for the council to consider, ranging from taking no action to ceasing all funding of the program and terminating its city-employed staff.
"I have an obligation to present council potential solutions to challenges we face," Jorgenson said in his memo.
Jorgenson said he would act upon whatever decision council members made and expressed hope it would put to rest concerns about the program that include a lack of transparency and ethical issues.
"It would be my desire that we not return to this topic," he said. "In doing so we can concentrate on our work on other items of importance to the community."
Councilman Jeff Snow made a motion to continue to fund MSM for the next three years but put the city council in charge of making the final decision regarding the awarding of the program's commercial facade grant. That decision had been left to the program's board of directors.
Snow said he believed the program was doing a great job and the City Council should continue to fund it.
"I think funding them at their current rate for three years shows our vote of confidence (in the MSM governing board)." Snow said. "We look at every department. We can always adjust if needed."
The most controversial issue with MSM right now is the way facade grants are being dispersed, Jorgenson's memo said. Many citizens have raised questions and concerns about MSM board members benefiting directly or indirectly from the grant awards, the council said.
City Councilman George Jordan opposed Snow's motion and cast the lone vote against it. He said he felt before the council committed to fund the program for three years it should have the city attorney review for any legal problems that could be an issue. Asked by Mayor Heather Lindsay if the program board had discussed citizen comments, Jordan, the council's liaison to the board, said he wasn't satisfied that it was taking concerns seriously.
"I have tried to stay neutral," Jordan said. "But the program has been marred by problems since its re-conception."
City Councilman Casey Powell, head of the finance committee, said he was neutral to the Snow motion because no matter which way council voted, the subject of funding MSM would come up again in another year, and the council could decide then if it should change the amount of funding or stop funding all together.