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Flint gets a new (and maybe its last) emergency manager

Jan 13, 2015

Flint is getting its fourth, and possibly its last, emergency manager.

Flint city finance adviser Jerry Ambrose is replacing outgoing emergency manager Darnell Earley. Earley is leaving after 15 months to take the same job with the Detroit Public Schools.

Jerry Ambrose is no stranger to Flint city government.  

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The former Lansing city finance director has served as finance adviser to Flint's three previous emergency managers since 2011. 

Ambrose says his main task now will be to return the city to local control.

“That will be my focus over the next three months, to move us through those steps. Put a check mark by them and move the city on,” says Ambrose. 

Ambrose says those steps include bringing Flint’s new city administrator on board next month, filling several senior staff positions, passing some new city ordinances, updating the city’s five-year strategic plan, and drafting a two-year budget. 

The state treasury department hopes to have a transition advisory board in place by this spring.

The selection of Ambrose was welcomed by city council members, but with some concerns.   

Councilman Eric Mays is a frequent critic of the emergency manager law and state oversight of Flint.       

He’s concerned Ambrose could take steps during the next few months to give incoming city administrator Natasha Henderson “super powers.”

“That city administrator would report to the transition advisory board (instead of) the council and mayor,” says Mays. 

Flint has been under the control of an emergency manager since 2011.  

The emergency managers have used major spending cuts and layoffs to deal with the city’s financial emergency. However, Flint is still carrying a $9 million deficit.