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Flint councilman asks mayor for ‘thorough review’ of DDA credit card purchases

FLINT, MI — A city councilman is asking the mayor to investigate credit card spending by Flint’s Downtown Development Authority, saying it appears “our hard-earned money is being squandered on extravagant and unnecessary indulgences.”

8th Ward Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer made the request in a letter on Monday, May 23, to Mayor Sheldon Neeley, who serves as chairman of the DDA, the agency charged with preventing deterioration of the city’s downtown, to encourage historical preservation and to promote economic growth and redevelopment.

Pfeiffer’s letter questions charges made to a DDA credit card account, including dinners, nail salon fees, souvenir hoodies, and other purchases.

The DDA board is appointed by the mayor and its budget is approved by the City Council, but the agency operates without day-to-day oversight by the city.

The organization collects parking fees in the downtown area and is currently without a day-to-day manager following the resignation of former Executive Director Kiaira May earlier this month.

“It has come to my attention that there are numerous expenses that warrant careful examination,” Pfeiffer’s letter to the mayor says in part. “Given the absence of an executive director, it is crucial for the (DDA) board to assume responsibility for overseeing these expenditures to ensure transparency, fiscal prudence, and accountability.”

The expenditures questioned by Pfeiffer appear on DDA executive office credit card statements, which were obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal. The statements include only a brief description of each transaction, don’t include detailed receipts, and don’t indicate whether any charges to the agency’s credit card may have been reimbursed.

The Journal could not reach May, who left her position on May 12, nearly two years after she was appointed by Neeley as the agency’s youngest-ever and first Black woman director.

Neeley indicated earlier this month that May was leaving the DDA for another job and thanked her in a statement for her service to the city.

Through a city spokeswoman, the mayor did not comment on Pfeiffer’s letter but said the “allegations are concerning and we expect the DDA board to have dialogue on this topic.”

The statement says the city “does not have oversight of day-to-day operations of the DDA.”

Although the DDA board was scheduled to meet on Wednesday, May 24, the city and board member Loyst Fletcher said that the meeting has been canceled.

Fletcher said he has missed the last three monthly meetings of the DDA and wasn’t familiar with Pfeiffer’s request. He said there were questions about credit card charges that came to his attention earlier this year but said he believed whatever issues were raised had been resolved.

Pfeiffer made comments about his letter to the mayor in a Facebook post on Monday.

In his letter to Neeley, Pfeiffer asked the mayor to retain all records of the DDA since June 1, 2021, regardless of any scheduled disposals.

“As further investigations are conducted, it is imperative that all relevant records be preserved,” the letter says, including emails, employee schedules, financial databases, notes and documents.

Pfeiffer was among council members who said in December that they had concerns about confirming the appointment of May, and the council failed, after multiple votes, to approve her appointment.

The city maintained then that May could continue in the position as the acting executive director.

May told the council then that she had been working to build partnerships in Flint since her arrival and detailed her work to develop a “Food Truck Sundays” program downtown.

Flint has historically had issues appointing DDA directors.

In 2010, the council appointed Gerard Burnash as the organization’s leader, marking the first time in seven years that a director of the agency was properly appointed, according to Journal files.

At the time of May’s nomination to the position in 2021, Burnash told The Journal in a message that he had been “relieved of his duties” as of April 1, 2021.

Read more at The Flint Journal:

Flint DDA Director Kiaira May resigns from position

Flint’s new DDA director is first African American woman to serve in role

New census update estimates Flint’s population has dropped below 80,000

Want more Flint-area news? Bookmark the local Flint news page or sign up for the free “[email protected] Flint” daily newsletter.

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