Conflict of interest issue raised at Duluth work session

DULUTH -- A concern was brought forth during the Duluth city council's work session Monday about contracts handed out by the city for certain events.

Currently, state criminal law and the city's ethics ordinance restrict city officials from entering into certain types of contracts with the city.

The request put forth by the city attorney was to eliminate the contract requirement for vendors at city events.

However, a few of the council members raised concerns about a conflict of interest for elected officials and city employees.

"We don't need to have elected officials or full-time employees allowed to enter into a contract with the city," said councilman Jim Dugan. "We've seen a lot of other cities around this country where underhanded things are happening and I don't want that to happen to Duluth."

Not only did the thinking go on as far as elected officials and full-time employees, but also their spouses.

"We don't want it to seem like we're favoring certain people over others," Dugan said. "It's all a matter of perception."

The one exception was for appointed officials, who basically volunteer their time for the city.

Councilman Billy Jones stressed that the city could run into a problem for people volunteering their time to serve on committees if they couldn't be allowed to provide goods and services at city sponsored events using their own businesses.

Other items discussed on the agenda include:

The ordinance of rezoning for the Korean Church of Atlanta, which was tabled at the Feb. 13 city council meeting, was presented again with the changes requested by the city council. The concern over the amount trees on the property is no longer a concern after city council members saw the property and, although there is a lot of greenery, it's more shrubbery than anything else. Twenty parking spots will also be included on the property just off Summit Ridge Parkway, while pedestrian traffic will use already installed crosswalks to get across the street. Safety issues in terms of parking were brought up by the city council, but members representing the church agreed to take the council's request and make them happen.

More than 600 properties will see a change in their flood zone rate as the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently redrew its Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Those residents have been informed and have been asked to submit appeals before June 9.