Thursday, May 20, 2004

Council releases West End money

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - All the frustration Dale Mallory had been holding inside because of a two-year struggle to get the city to release $267,800 in development funds to the West End erupted Wednesday as Cincinnati City Council prepared to vote on the matter.

"Play whatever game you want," said the normally calm Mallory, president of the West End Community Council. "But give our community our money."

Mallory and other West End residents had come expecting that council would sign off on a plan that would finally release the money. Council voted unanimously to release the funds.

The dollars represent the final payment made by Automatic Data Processing Corp. Under a 20-year deal, the firm agreed to give a portion of its property taxes for public improvements in the West End.

The city suspended funding to the community over questions about how the money was spent.

The plan approved by council would turn the money into a loan fund overseen by Fifth Third Bank and a publicly appointed board.

The five members of the board, also called the West End Development Fund, would oversee projects. Fifth Third Bank would manage the account and determine the creditworthiness of applicants.

Mallory's ire was raised when it appeared that council members were picking apart the deal with too many questions.

Vice Mayor Alicia Reece expressed her concern over the fact the bank seemed to have the final say on loans because it would determine creditworthiness. She also raised questions about a fee being charged by the bank from the fund.

"It has been difficult for African-Americans to get loans through traditional lending institutions," Reece said.

Mallory said he appreciated council's concern, however, "the city doesn't have to hold our hand throughout the process."


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