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Charlotte City Council members say re-organization of departments may resolve concerns

Charlotte City Council members say the move to combine the city's Economic Development and Neighborhood Development offices addresses some of their concerns about communication and oversight. Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Burgess says the council has had concerns for the last couple years about how the departments can best create jobs and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods. She says there's been too little oversight of grant programs. "Over time our observation has been that we have not seen progress that other cities have seen with the same amount of resources. So we just want to step up expectations," explains Burgess. She says she's frustrated with the way the city manages the Community Development Corporations that receive federal and local funds in exchange for building affordable housing. Some of those deals have not created the number of affordable units originally promised and are delinquent in taxes. Council Member John Lassiter says there's been trouble with communication between the departments and council. He also wants to see greater oversight of grant programs and how they fit into the city's strategy as a result of the re-organization. "In some cases we've had great creativity and I applaud that, other cases we've simply carried through and administered a federal-state program without much thought to could we do it better with that same money," says Lassiter. City Manager Curt Walton says the re-organization has nothing to do with recent criticism of the community development corporations. Rather, the changes are meant to align the goals of the two departments and respond to economic factors.