HAMPTON — The Hampton City Council voted Tuesday to transfer $100,000 from its general fund to the city’s Downtown Development Authority with a 4-2 vote. The money appears to be for the purchase of real estate in downtown Hampton, although no details about the purchase have been provided to the public.
In addition, the council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the DDA to ensure the money would be spent as intended.
The council voted at the last meeting to approve the transfer. Since the transfer came in the form of an ordinance, the transfer required two approvals from the City Council.
At the last meeting on Feb. 25, the council voted 4-2 in favor of the transfer following a 40-minute executive session. Council members Henry Byrd and Stephanie Bodie voted against the transfer both times.
Council members declined at that meeting to discuss publicly why they wanted to transfer the money, under the belief that they could not talk about what had been discussed in executive session.
That lack of transparency did not sit well with members of the Hampton public, and one of them called the council out for not explaining the fund transfer during public comments at Tuesday’s meeting.
After stopping to consider her answer, Ann Tarpley, who motioned for the vote, explained the fund transfer to the Herald.
“The DDA is an entity for the city of Hampton to help with downtown development,” Tarpley said. “They have a project that they want to do, and as we’ve done in the past, we’ve helped them do some projects we feel is needed in the city. We’re paying to allocate for a project that they’re working on.”
Tarpley did not specify what that project was, but according to city documents, the transfer was performed for the purchase of “certain real estate” in downtown Hampton.
According to the memorandum of understanding, the purchase of the real estate will be made by the DDA and could involve demolition and/or rehabilitation of the property. When that work is completed, the title will be transferred back to the city of Hampton. All of this will be done in 180 days, according to the MOU.