The Albany City Council will unfreeze funds meant for Linn-Benton Community College after temporarily halting the city’s partnership with the school in December.
The issue did not appear on the board’s Wednesday agenda. But during a portion of the meeting meant to provide councilors opportunities to speak on issues, Councilor Alex Johnson II made a motion to unfreeze the funds originally meant to help the college purchase equipment for its welding and machinery program.
Last year, Councilor Rich Kellum took issue with LBCC’s spending.
The Albany City Council authorized a $2.9 million grant five years ago to be used in conjunction with a separate bond by LBCC to provide skilled workers for the local metal and welding industries. LBCC provided the city with a list of equipment it hoped to purchase for the new classrooms and program but according to Kellum, the college deviated from the list to the tune of $40,000. In December, the council voted to freeze the partnership and ordered an audit on the equipment LBCC had purchased.
On Wednesday, Johnson said he had attended a meeting between city personnel and LBCC staff earlier in the week and noted that miscommunication while drafting the original agreement was at the heart of the current conflict.
Before voting on Johnson’s motion, Kellum proposed an amendment: authorize payment to LBCC of all monies except the amount spent on compressed gas cylinders and the amount not yet spent on unneeded welding chambers.
The amendment passed 4-2 with councilors Dick Olsen and Bessie Johnson voting no. Johnson noted that she didn’t believe the discrepancies to be malicious and that the council was being too specific in its examination of the purchases.