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City Council tasks lobbyist with project funding needs

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council gave a lobbyist a list of projects that would benefit from federal funding at its meeting Friday afternoon.

Leslie Monzingo, a lobbyist with Strategics Consulting, presented the projects agreed upon by city administrators and asked council members to suggest changes and ask questions.

The 2020 Federal Action Plan has three categories: downtown redevelopment and quality of life; public safety; and public infrastructure. Under downtown redevelopment are finding gap funding for the Empire Hotel project, West End neighborhood revitalization and a year-round location for a farmers market.

Councilman Brian Miller asked if anyone had talked with people with the farmers markets about where they would want a new location. He said one person suggested to him that the market be located at the Railwalk.

Monzingo said city staff members told her that the needs are promoting the market itself and finding ways to help it be more efficient.

Miller said farmers market vendors should be consulted to find out their priorities.

The council decided to keep the farmers market on the list of projects even without a consensus about the goals for it.

Monzingo said the project list is intended to direct Strategics Consulting to what is should focus on but she understands there may be changes.

“This is an opportunity for us to find the priorities and have everyone to work on, but there’s also always room for adjustments,” she said.

She recommended being consistent because the list will be shared with congressional offices to give them an idea of specific priorities.

Under public safety, the projects focused on are re-entry and second chance; innovative policing strategies, gang suppression and violent crime reduction in West End for police; working with the Fire Department to secure funding; and securing grants to help with the community partners battling the opioid epidemic, such as a county treatment center.

Under public infrastructure, the list includes grants to support regional transportation and the platform improvement project; upgrades to aging water infrastructure; and stream restrictions.

Mayor Pro Tem David Post said the city is looking to add routes to the transit system, which would require extra funding.

Councilwoman Karen Alexander said because the city financially supports East Spencer and Spencer with the transit system, it may be able to cooperate on efforts to get more funding.

Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield said she would like the lobbyists to concentrate on one-and-done funding, not sources that need to be sustained over time.

Mayor Al Heggins said she would like Monzingo to meet not only with city department heads but with local residents.

“Our public needs to really understand this as well, so we can build in a community piece where you can explain, they can meet you and (understand) the importance of your work,” Heggins said.

Other business:

• Heggins read a letter from Ashley Honbarrier, executive director of Happy Roots, that asked for $15,000 to expand community gardens to more schools.

Several council members said the city no longer awards grant money to nonprofit groups but instead gives money to the Salisbury Community Foundation for it to disperse. City Manager Lane Bailey said Happy Roots could ask for funding from Rowan County United Way since the group addresses healthy lifestyles and basic needs.

• The council unanimously approved a salary increase for City Attorney Graham Corriher to $115,000 a year.

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