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Flint gets a new city administrator

Dec 23, 2014

Natasha Henderson admits there are challenges ahead.

Henderson was introduced today as Flint’s incoming city administrator. Starting in February, she’ll take over running the day-to-day operations of a city still struggling to shake off a multi-million dollar budget deficit and ongoing crime problems. 

Henderson emerged as the choice of Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley after a months-long search.   She was one of 28 applicants for the job. 

She’ll be paid $140,000 a year.  

Natasha Henderson was chosen from a field of 28 applicants to be Flint's city administrator.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Natasha Henderson spent six years as Muskegon Heights' city manager and chief administrative officer.  She handed in her letter of resignation for that job this week. She was the director of quality assurance and held other city jobs in Texarkana, Texas from 2001 to 2008.   

“I definitely would like to be a part of getting Flint to the next level,” Henderson says.  

The next level would involve no longer having an emergency manager in charge.

Flint has been run by an emergency manager appointed by the governor since 2011. An emergency manager appointed by then-governor John Engler also ran the city from the summer of 2002 to 2004.

Flint officials hope the city will begin the transition out from under state supervision next year.   The governor may appoint a Receivership Transition Advisory Board to replace the emergency manager next year. The board would work with Flint’s elected mayor and city council.    

Current emergency manager Darnell Earley made hiring a city administrator a key step in that process.

“(Natasha) Henderson represents the next generation of local government managers and administrators,” says Earley. “She personifies the energy, commitment, diversity and critical skill sets necessary to manage effectively Michigan’s distressed communities.”

As city administrator, Henderson would work with both the board and Flint’s elected leaders.     

City councilman Eric Mays says he’s willing to give Henderson a chance to prove herself, adding that he’s not happy the outgoing emergency manager picked the new administrator and gave her a five-year contract.

“I’m not so much concerned with who it would be,” Mays says. “I’m concerned about how the emergency manager … will define her duties.”

The new city administrator will start work at the end of February. But otherwise, few changes are expected on the administration side at Flint city hall.