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Charting the Course for Lasting Solvency

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Eight months after the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act of 2011 (Public Act 4) was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder, I was appointed as emergency manager for the City of Flint. Flint was the first municipality in the state to go into receivership under the new law.

In my opinion, Public Act 4 gives emergency managers the ability to develop the framework for long-term sustainability in cities that are on the brink of bankruptcy. The expanded powers given to emergency managers provide a means of addressing issues beyond just the financial crisis. In the City of Flint, we are concentrating our efforts on developing a plan that provides for the city's future growth, prosperity and financial solvency.

In addition to solving the city's financial crisis, I have also identified two other key areas of concern: public safety and infrastructure/development. Public Act 4 allows emergency managers to take a holistic approach to solving a city's problems and gives us the authority to act swiftly in resolving matters of great urgency.

Cities that find themselves in receivership can no longer afford to do business as usual. Under Public Act 4 managers have the authority to seek partnerships and cooperative agreements with other units of government for shared services. The law also opens the door for private sector options for service delivery. Emergency managers have the ability to make policy changes that are not necessarily politically popular, but are considered to be in the best interest of the city and its residents.

While it is true that the law gives broad powers to emergency managers, it doesn't require the use of those powers. My role is to judiciously apply the expanded capabilities of the law. I choose to do this by working together with the elected officials, leaders, and residents of the Flint community.

My hope is when Flint emerges from receivership it will be on a solid course for lasting solvency and continuing positive growth. One way to ensure this outcome for Flint and all cities emerging from receivership is for the state to consider entering into a consent agreement with these municipalities that includes performance benchmarks and the promise of swift intervention if the benchmarks are not met. The goal is to set cities in receivership on a path for sustainability and to prevent any recurrence of a crisis situation.