Benton Harbor, Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers — December 21, 2011 at 7:51 am

Flint’s Emergency Mgr rewards Mayor & City Council for good behavior, Benton Harbor teachers take cuts


It’s probably a crass way of looking at it, but I can’t see THIS as anything more than the Mayor of Flint and the City Council being rewarded for their obedience.

Flint’s emergency manager is giving back some responsibilities to the city’s mayor and city council.

One of the first things Michael Brown did after the governor appointed him was to eliminate the pay and benefits for Mayor Dayne Walling and the entire Flint city council. He also canceled future city council meetings.

This week, Brown reinstated 60 percent of the mayor’s salary, as well as his full benefits. Mayor Walling will also get some of his powers restored, including his role in economic development, master planning, intergovernmental affairs, and community engagement. Walling is also a member of an advisory panel for the emergency manager.

In a written statement, Walling says “Manager Brown has followed through on his commitment to make this a collaborative process that involves elected leadership and engages residents.”

The emergency manager also is letting each member of the city council collect seven thousand dollars a year in pay, or about half of their former annual pay, but with no benefits.

The Flint city council will have a little less to do than the mayor. The emergency manager will only permit the council members to attend public meetings in their respective wards, as directed by him.

Usually when government officials lose their jobs, it’s because the voters replaced them. In Michigan, it can simply be on the whim of an Emergency Manager. And if you behave yourself and do what he tells you to do, he might let you be part of the process and even have some of your salary back. If you’re really good, you get your benefits, too.

At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to him.

Meanwhile, in Benton Harbor, teachers agreed to wage cuts in order to fend off the imposition of an Emergency Manager in their public school system.

Teachers in Benton Harbor have agreed to an across the board cut in pay and benefits. Teachers ratified the contract with a vote of 85 yes and 65 no. Tuesday afternoon the school board voted 5 to 2 to approve a new contract that will reduce teachers’ pay by 10-percent beginning in February (contract runs through August 2012). Teachers will pay 20-percent of their health care benefits. In the past three weeks alone the school board has closed two schools and laid off 20 employees. They’ve also put buildings up for sale. […]

The state is expected to release its preliminary review of the district’s finances Wednesday. That’s the first step to determine if a district needs an emergency manager.

Seawood hopes these last minute, meaningful efforts will allow Benton Harbor’s school board and his administration to continue to have local control. The City of Benton Harbor has been operating under a state-appointed emergency manger for nearly 2 years.

The school district is still running a $16 million budget deficit. That’s about a third of the district’s annual operating budget

Finally, Muskegon Heights schools have just started their way down the path to an Emergency Manager as they requested two weeks ago.