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Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Grant coordinator has worked for the city since January

By William Kincaid
Celina's new grant coordinator has been working for the city since Jan. 28, even though city council didn't approve his hiring until Monday night.      Third and final reading was passed by city councilors to hire Jerry Lacy, 704 Pat Drive, as grant coordinator for the city's downtown revitalization project.
"Why is city council just now approving the contract for Lacy?" councilman Bill Sell asked on Monday.
"The dollars, I think, have been there," Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan answered.
Bryan said the money for the grant coordinator position - coming from a $400,000 state grant the city received for downtown revitalization - already had been in the budget. The position is a requirement of the grant.
Because the city wanted to get started on the project, Bryan said he brought Lacy in to work for the city in late January.
Lacy has not been paid any money for his work yet, city auditor Emily Stewart said. But he has been accumulating hours.
When asked by city councilors, Bryan said Lacy averages around 20 hours a week.
Councilors were told the contract would be retroactive.
"We owe him quite a bit of money?" Councilman Rick Bachelor asked.
The contract, according to Bryan, allows for a total payment of $30,000, including the hours Lacy already has worked prior to Monday night.
Lacy will earn $30 an hour with the maximum $30,000 for a period ending Feb. 28, 2011.
In the state grant, $60,000 was set aside for total administrative costs - $30,000 for the grant coordinator, with the other $30,000 already paid to Poggemeyer Design Group.
Councilman June Scott asked why Lacy was chosen over others and if there was a conflict of interest since his wife, Jackie Lacy, is council clerk. Scott said the question was not his, as Celina residents having been asking him this recently.
"He's doing a good job for us and his expertise is going to pay off for us," Bryan said, adding that he was chosen because of his construction expertise.
"What's the nature of the conflict?" City Law Director Kevin McKirnan asked.
Scott said he was just relaying a question given to him.
Before passing the ordinance to hire Lacy, various amendments were made to the contract.
A phrase was added stating Lacy's total payment from the city is not to exceed $30,000. Also, a section regarding a possible renewal of contract was removed.
The initial ordinance to hire Lacy was brought to council on April 13 by Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue, who wanted it passed as an emergency measure. But because city council members Rick Bachelor and June Scott were absent, the ordinance did not have enough votes to pass as an emergency. Instead, the ordinance then had to go through three readings.
When asked this morning why Lacy's hiring was just recently brought to city council when he had been working since January, LaRue said she did not know. Bryan and Celina Safety Service Director Jeff Hazel would not answer the question.
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