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  Brown says it's time to involve mayor
 
Brown said July 17 he has spoken with Mayor Dayne Walling and city council leadership about having more involvement in city affairs. He also said he will meet with council members individually about working on an agreement to submit to Gov. Rick Snyder to set up a transition advisory board.

Under PA 436 of 2012, the transition advisory board is made up of both state and local representatives. This government body, subject to both the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act, would replace the emergency manager and has the power to review the city’s compliance with deficit elimination plans and approve city budgets, requests to issue debt or bonds and collective bargaining agreements.

“Under 436, a transition advisory board would be in place that would have some state oversight, but for day-to-day business the mayor and city council would operate like in any other community,” he said.

Brown, who was reinstated as Flint’s emergency manager in July, said the city is at a very different place now than it was in December 2011.

He said the bleeding has stopped.

Flint’s 2013 adopted budget was balanced for the first time in seven years. The recently adopted 2014 budget is also balanced. Brown will begin working with the council and mayor on the 2015 budget.

“When I came in in December 2011, it was triage. We had to stop the bleeding. We had seven years of overspending, a deficit trending towards $20 million,” Brown said.

He said the city had a $25 million budget gap that year so his administration raised fees, including the street lighting assessment, which generated about $2.8 million. Those funds were moved from the general fund and used to pay for police officers and fire fighters, he said. There was also a $23 million deficit in the water and sewer fund at the time.

Brown said the city was required to send a business and operational plan to the state treasurer, which it accomplished. The city also reduced wages and benefits for employees by 20 percent and laid off 20 percent of its workforce.

“We believe we now have a path to solvency. It’s not easy and will take some tough decisions. We know our revenues are a big piece of that,” Brown said.

There is still a $3 million structural deficit over the next five years. In the 2015 budget, there will be an additional $6 million to $7 million deficit because there are multiple state and federal grants expiring.

He said an additional income tax could raise $7 million a year in new revenues to help solve that deficit and would allow the city to take care of additional financial needs. He would like to bring a raised income tax proposal to Flint voters but first needs legislative approval to put that measure on the ballot. Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Detroit have previously been granted the ability to have a citizen vote on similar income tax increases, he said.

A deficit elimination plan has been submitted to the state to solve the city’s $19 million deficit. He believes part of that can be paid out of the city’s budget over the next five years. These bonds would themselves then be paid off over another 25- to 30- year period. More information about the program is available on the web site at soli-lite.
 
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