In his first seven weeks as Flint's emergency manager, Michael Brown has had the chance to make some controversial decisions. Now, he's revealed his plan to create financial stability for the troubled city in 2012.
On Tuesday, Brown's Financial and Operating Plan for the coming year was made publicly available. Public Act 4 requires that emergency managers submit a financial plan to the state Treasurer within 45 days of appointment.
Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Brown, who was a previous acting mayor in the city, as the emergency manager of Flint in November after a review conducted by the State Treasury Department showed the city's financial difficulties.
Brown eliminated administrators and stripped City Council members and Mayor Dayne Walling of salary and benefits before partially restoring them in December.
In 19 pages, the new plan for Flint sketches out the need for a massive overhaul across departments and services to save administration costs. Two ideas Brown's plan mentions specifically are consolidating 911 response with Genesee County's system and finding a different administrator for the Flint Pension Fund.
At the top of Brown's to do list is "restructure collective bargaining agreements," one of the powers emergency managers can exercise under Michigan's emergency manager law. It's not clear how Brown plans to restructure agreements, but he has the ability to negate them completely. That power is one of the primary reasons opponents decry emergency managers .
Brown's plan for Flint reiterates the need to protect public safety during shakeups in the city's organization, after massive cuts to the police and fire departments early last year. He isn't calling for further personnel eliminations, but instead wants to share services and use existing personel more efficiently. Brown's plan also highlights the need for better coordination between the Genesee County Criminal Justice System and the Flint Police Department.
One surprising proposal is the idea to reopen the city jail, also for the benefit of public safety. In 2008, the jail closed because of lack of funding, and in May of last year a proposed millage to keep it operating was voted down by city residents.
In a statement, Brown, who is working with an estimated $11.3 million city deficit, acknowledged the challenge involved in making his plan a reality.
"It is a work in progress and it will be amended as necessary," he said. "The next step is the implementation process and I see that as being the most difficult challenge."
A second financial report is due in June.