Pelham wants to know where the funds are

Published 11:43 am Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pelham City Council wants to know where the stimulus funds are.

That was the consensus Monday night following a motion made by Place 5 councilwoman Karyl Rice requesting a representative from a lobbying firm come to the next council work session to account for funds that have been paid and funds yet to be received.

Rice’s motion stemmed from $45,034.63 the city has paid since March to lobbying firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings to help secure funds from the recent stimulus package.

The city has yet to receive any money from the stimulus package, so Rice requested a BABC representative be at the Aug. 3 council work session.

Rice, who was absent when the motion to hire BABC was passed, said she feels the city could use that money more wisely.

She also said she feels the city, its council and mayor are the best candidates to lobby for stimulus money.

“It appears to me that we’re not using the money as wisely as possible,” Rice said. “My whole contention is we are our best lobbyists,” Rice said. “Our representatives listen to us.”

Rice said since BABC has many clients, the more than $45,000 the city is paying fails in comparison to what other clients can pay.

“Since we can’t pay them millions, I feel like we’re at the bottom of the totem pole,” Rice said.

Earlier this month, Mayor Don Murphy said it’s frustrating to have the stimulus money out there, but not be able to get it.

“It’s kind of like a ghost at night,” Murphy said of the stimulus money. “It’s there, but you don’t see it.”

In other council actions, the council streamlined the process for requesting funding by creating an application and questionnaire.

All forms must include items like the requesting organization’s name, tax ID number, description of the request, contact info, how the funds will be used and how the funding will help better the community.

“This will help us gather information to make as wise of a decision as possible when granting funding,” said Council President Pro-Tempore and Place 4 representative Steve Powell.