WUOMFM

Flint leaders would like more say in state spending on Flint water crisis

Nov 4, 2016

Flint's Capitol Theater is undergoing a multi-million renovation
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials want more of a say in the state’s investment priorities in their city.

It’s been nearly a year since a state of emergency was declared in Flint because of lead contaminated drinking water.  

State officials point to millions of dollars spent during the past year to help Flint recover from its water crisis, including economic development projects.

But Flint leaders question the state’s spending priorities.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) (center) receives a tour of the Ferris building.
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

“People have seen us do a ribbon cutting at the Capitol Theater but we still don’t have a grocery store,” says Mayor Karen Weaver.   

The project to renovate the historic downtown theater is getting more than $5 million from the state.

Weaver and other city leaders say Flint residents should have more of a say in what projects get prioritized. 

The governor’s point man in Flint says it can be complicated, when the state legislature and the federal government are involved in setting spending priorities.

“I think we are including Flint,” says Harvey Hollins, the governor’s point man on the Flint water crisis.  Though he adds more could be done to improve relations. 

Phil Hagerman is the CEO of Skypointe Ventures. His company is renovating a downtown Flint building into a center for entrepreneurs and start-up companies.  

“Economic development is really probably an under-recognized challenge of the water problem,” says Hagerman.

Hagerman says fixing Flint’s water problem is a government, philanthropic and business problem.

“All those areas have to be developed and attacked together for us to be able to come out on in the highest place,” says Hagerman.