03/16/2012 11:41 am ET Updated May 16, 2012

Public Act 4's Enhanced Powers Are Necessary for Recovery

I believe it is important to understand that without the enhanced powers of Public Act 4 of 2011, compared to the powers of Act 72, it would not have been possible for an emergency manager to make the changes that have been made in the City of Pontiac that are necessary and will continue to be necessary to place a city on a path to fiscal reform. The ability to void onerous provisions of collective bargaining agreements, with the consent of the state treasurer, has benefitted Pontiac taxpayers through our ability to reduce the cost of retiree health care ($5,000,000 annually), to reduce the cost of fire services ($3,000,000 annually) by combining the Pontiac Fire Department with the Waterford Township Fire Department, and to reduce the cost of police services ($2,000,000 annually) by contracting with the Oakland County Sheriff Department. These are just three examples of what would not have been possible were it not for the provisions of Public Act 4.

Public Act 4 also provides for the ability to adopt ordinances. Ordinances establish the administrative framework of a local unit of government, and when the government is not working properly, ordinances are usually the cause. Since Public Act 4 was adopted, Pontiac has adopted 27 ordinances which have changed the governing structure of the city, updated administrative regulations, and repealed outdated ordinances. Public Act 4 also provides for an emergency manager to have complete authority over all personnel decisions and to make appointments to boards and commissions and the ability to act in the stead of boards and commissions.

I have been an emergency manager under both Public Act 4 and its predecessor Act. The major drawback I had operating under Act 72 was that the process of restoring fiscal stability took too much time. Without the enhanced powers of Public Act 4, many essential changes as described above could not be made at all.

Finally, an important point to note is that Public Act 4 does not, in my opinion, disenfranchise the voters. Voters still have the ability to address their concerns to their elected officials and the elected officials have the responsibility to present those concerns to the emergency manager. Also, as emergency manager I have held and will continue to hold public hearings on specific issues and members of the public have the ability to address their thoughts on such issues. Additionally I have always had an open door policy for anyone.