Flint's new emergency manager says city does, in fact, need an EM

Aug 27, 2012

Flint's new emergency financial manager disagrees -- strongly -- with recent assertions by the city council's president that Flint doesn't need an emergency financial manager anymore.  

Ed Kurtz was Flint's Emergency Financial Manager a decade ago. He says the city is in much worse shape than the first time he was in charge.

The city has $19 million  of debt, and nearly $1.5 billion in underfunded pension and retiree health care costs.

And outgoing Emergency Manager Mike Brown just completed a new budget that could - if the city doesn't overspend - keep Flint from going deeper in debt in the next year.

Kurtz says it's too soon to put the elected Mayor and City Council back in charge.

"From my perspective, I haven't seen any evidence since I left the last time that they're able to live with a budget," he told Michigan Radio.

Kurtz says he understands why people are upset about Brown's decision to sell the long-vacant, city-owned Genesee Towers, for a dollar, to a group that will tear it down.

Monday morning, activists unfurled a protest banner from the building that read, "Cost, $9 million in taxes - SOLD $1.00 - but nobody asked US......"

But Kurtz says nobody was willing to take over the building a decade ago, and its condition has only worsened.

"It's just a liability," he says.  "It's falling down a piece at a time."

The city will also kick in about $750,000 in HUD money to help with demolition costs.

Uptown Reinvestment will pay the remainder of the demolition costs - that will be about $3.25 million more.

The company will redevelop the property after the building is gone.