A proposal to give $48,000 in low to moderate income housing funds to the Winneshiek Energy District sparked a lot of discussion at Monday night's Decorah City Council meeting.
The proposal had been approved by a 5-1 vote of the TIF/LMI Board. Winneshiek Energy District Director Andy Johnson said the money would be split between two programs run by WED--the cost-share program for energy audits and retrofits and the Green Iowa Direct Install program. Funding for both programs would be targeted to homeowners of low to moderate incomes.
City Council member Rachel Vagts supported the funding, saying "There are a lot of people who need this badly who don't have the $250 (audit cost) to spend." But City Council member Paul Wanless recalled that the city council was told when it agreed to co-sponsor the federal grant that founded the Winneshiek Energy District that there would be no cost to the city, "but as that money is disappearing, this is the third thing we've been asked to do."
Monday night's discussion also included a discussion of the side issue of whether city council member Carolyn Corbin had a conflict of interest, since she has done contractual work for Winneshiek Energy District. But City Attorney Rick Zahasky said there would be no conflict of interest, since Corbin did not have a direct personal financial interest in the programs that would be funded by the grant.
After a lengthy discussion, Vagts clarified her motion to say that it called for giving WED $12,000 immediately and three more payments of $12,000 every three months--with the city council reviewing the spending each time.
The motion passed on a 4-3 vote, with Wanless, Gary Rustad and Randy Schissel voting "no."