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Rewriting Flint's city charter, more transparency and stiffer ethics rules

Feb 6, 2017

Flint voters will decide later this year if they want to approve sweeping changes to their city charter.

In 2014, Flint voters approved setting up a special commission to study possible changes to the city’s charter. The charter’s been in place since 1974.

When this process started, Flint was under state receivership and being overseen by an emergency manager appointed by the governor. A state-appointed panel still oversees the city, but the mayor and city council are now in charge of the city's day-to-day affairs.

The charter review commission considered replacing the city’s current form of government. But in the end, they decided to keep a strong mayor and city council. However, the commission is proposing about two dozen other changes, including stiffening ethics rules and changing other rules to make city hall more transparent.

John Cherry is the vice chairman of the charter review commission.  He says the changes will make “it easier for the city to respond adverse circumstances…”

“It will help us to improve our response … but not solve all our problems,” says Cherry.

Those other problems include the declining tax base Flint has struggled with for years, which Cherry links to the city’s bouts with state receivership.    

Neither Flint's mayor nor members of the city council have commented on the panel's recommendations.  

Flint residents have 30 days to weigh in on the draft charter changes.

The commission expects voters will decide whether or not to approve the proposed amendments to the city charter in August.