Huth addresses council on conflict of interest

By Charles Menchaca

The Urbana City Council heard Alderwoman Laura Huth read from a statement Monday night concerning the conflict of interest of her dual roles with the council and Habitat for Humanity.

During the public input portion of the meeting, Huth appeared with representatives from the Champaign and Piatt County chapters of the Habitat for Humanity including Board President Bob Kary.

Huth said she has been a member of the council for eight years and accepted the position of executive director at Habitat in early January 2004.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department informed the city and Huth to apply for a waiver “due to a potential appearance of a conflict of interest.”

Since taking on the position, Huth recused herself from voting on matters concerning Habitat in order to avoid the conflict of interest. Although this was acceptable for state law, it was not acceptable for HUD, Huth said.

Habitat often used city or HOME Consortium funds for lots to house low-income families.

Habitat did not request or receive any funding last year, Huth said. There were also no votes for lot approvals for Habitat last year.

Huth also noted that Habitat has not accepted any funding or property from the city of Urbana since she accepted the new position.

“Habitat for Humanity is actively seeking to move forward to address this issue and we appreciate your time,” Huth read.

In other news, council members approved a series of ordinances approving Neighborhood Organization Grant Agreements.

The agreements will provide funding for four separate projects during the 2004-2005 fiscal year.