Tuesday, Flint voters will pick members of a special city charter review commission. There are 13 names on the ballot.
Mayor Dayne Walling says the nine-member board will have a lot to consider to update Flint’s more than 40-year-old city charter.
“We have serious and ongoing budget challenges,” says Walling. “There needs to be more guidance about how we handle those issues.”
In November, Flint voters agreed to set up the commission. It will have three years to propose changes to Flint’s charter.
Voters also approved changes to the city charter to reduce the number of staff appointments the mayor can make, and require the city to use “best practices” when drafting the budget.
But voters also rejected a trio of other proposed city charter changes: eliminating certain executive departments, eliminating the city’s Civil Service Commission, and eliminating the Office of Ombudsman.
The commission is expected to look at whether Flint should change from its current "strong mayor" form of government, and turn some of the power over to an appointed city manager.
Flint had been under the control of an emergency manager appointed by the governor until recently. Since 2011 a series of emergency managers have made painful cuts to reduce the city’s budget deficit from $19 million to zero. Last month, the governor lifted the “financial emergency” designation hanging over the city.
Flint is now being run by its elected mayor and city council, under the oversight of a Receivership Transition Advisory Board. The RTAB will remain in place until the state deems Flint leaders capable of governing the city themselves.
Any proposed changes to the city charter might prove pivotal to that process.