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Genesee County wants state to cover $1million-plus spent on Flint water crisis

Mar 21, 2016

Genesee County officials say they want the state to cover their costs of responding to the Flint water crisis.

Genesee County Commission Chairperson Jaime Curtis (at the microphone) calls on the state to cover the $1 million-plus the county has spent on the Flint water crisis
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County has spent more than a million dollars during the past six months dealing with Flint’s tainted drinking water.

County Commission Chairperson Jamie Curtis says the state should pay because the state is largely responsible for the crisis. 

Curtis notes Governor Snyder has promised to fix the problem. He says fixing the problem should include paying the county’s tab.

“When he makes the statement thta all levels of government have failed, that’s incorrect,” insists Curtis, “Genesee County didn’t fail.”

Curtis says Genesee County acted months before the city and state governments on concerns about the water quality and the Legionnaires Disease outbreak. The county also declared a public health emergency last October, long before the state and city declared ‘state of emergency.’

But the county’s actions came with a price, and that price continues to rise.

Commissioner Curtis says the county may have to lay off 24 employees and see its bond rating fall, without the state’s help.

The bond rating may have a particularly long range effect on the county. Genesee County is preparing to market $60 million in bonds to pay for upgrades to its water plant. A lower bond rating will mean the county will have to pay more over the life of the 30 year bonds.  

Much of the concern is over what Genesee County has spent on the Flint water crisis to date.  Going forward, Curtis says federal funding will help with added expenses at the county health department.