Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis is frustrated that a report requested several weeks ago from the mayor’s office updating progress on the Bridge Center, the long-planned mental health diversion facility, has yet to make its way to the council chambers.
Though Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel told the Metro Council a cooperative endeavor agreement, one of the items requested, would be finalized in the next 30 days, Collins-Lewis wants the full report in half the time.
“I’m just going to believe it’s going to be ready in the next fifteen days because people need to be able to see it before [30 days] from now,” the councilwoman says. “I don’t think they’re trying to do something undercover, but it’s generally a much smoother process if people know what’s going on.”
Collins-Lewis says she asked for a full-fledged plan for transparency purposes, citing concerns from her constituents who say they don’t know where their taxpayer dollars are going. These fears were echoed by residents who spoke at last night’s meeting.
Assuaging those concerns will likely be the most challenging part of the process, says Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.
“People want to make sure that there’s an open line of communication of how the process will work moving forward,” Broome says.
Since the Bridge Center is a nonprofit and not a government agency, revenue from the 1.5 mill property tax can only be allocated to the center through a cooperative endeavor agreement.
But can a report realistically come together in two weeks? Gissel won’t say, but notes that even after the CEA is complete, the center won’t be funded until the end of the year, making more of the details requested in the report all the more difficult to answer in a short time frame.
Though a draft is finished, Gissel says all parties—including the finance director, parish attorney and Bridge Center board members—need to review it before introducing it to and later presenting it to the council.
“I’d rather be safe than stick to a date,” Gissel says. “We’re pushing to make sure we do this expeditiously and cautiously.”
In the past few weeks, the Bridge Center board has been focused on increasing its diversity, as reported in Daily Report.