emergency manager

this one

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Gov. Snyder shuts down NERD fund

"Governor Rick Snyder’s controversial NERD Fund will be shut down this week and replaced. Its official name is the New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify Fund. Governor Snyder used the fund to pick up costs he says should not be paid by taxpayers," Rick Pluta reports.

Highland Park could have an Emergency Manager soon

A state board has determined that the city of Highland Park has probable financial distress. Gov. Rick Snyder will next appoint a review team which could lead to an appointment of an emergency manager. According the Associated Press, "The Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board also determined there is no probable financial distress in Ecorse Public Schools. A similar hearing is scheduled Wednesday for Royal Oak Township."

Detroit City Council rejects loan deal from EM

"The Detroit City Council has rejected a proposed $350 million loan deal. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr . . . planned to use most of the $ 350 million to pay off two banks. That’s controversial because he’s proposed much steeper cuts for other Detroit creditors. Bankruptcy court Judge Steven Rhodes will have to sign off on the deal," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Tony Saunders is breaking months of silence on a proposed city income tax. Saunders says he has some concerns about the proposal.

“I want to make sure we have a strong climate for business investment here. Also, you know this is one of the poorest cities in Michigan, so the last thing I want to see is our citizens being taxed once again when they’re already struggling to make ends meet,” Saunders said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

On average, students under the state’s first fully privatized public school district are learning at a faster rate than under the old system. That’s according to data released Monday night by the charter company running the Muskegon Heights district.

Muskegon Heights schools’ emergency manager set up the charter system in the summer of 2012, when the existing district couldn’t afford to open. Highland Park Public Schools is under a similar arrangement.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint is getting its third emergency manager in less than six months.

Flint’s current Emergency Manager announced his resignation today.

Mike Brown is in his second stint as Flint’s Emergency Manager. Governor Snyder appointed Brown to the post in 2011.   A change in the state law forced him to step down in 2012.   Another change opened the door to Brown replacing his own replacement a few months ago.    Mike Brown also briefly served as Flint’s interim mayor in 2009 after the resignation of former Mayor Don Williamson.  

www.mich.gov

The Ford Foundation has pledged $127,000 to hire the firm Public Consulting Group to help manage Detroit's federal grant money.

The city has lost money in the past because of poor oversight of its grants, like a $400,000 lapsed grant to the Detroit Police Department for an armored personnel carrier.

After nearly five years, the city of Pontiac's financial emergency is officially resolved.

Emergency manager Lou Schimmel resigned yesterday, but the state will still have a heavy hand in the city's finances.

A "transition advisory board" appointed by Governor Snyder will have to approve all major budget decisions.

Lou Schimmel was appointed to that board. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

For the first time in nearly five years, the city of Pontiac is not under emergency management.

Emergency manager Lou Schimmel resigned Monday, saying the city’s financial emergency is “resolved.”

Schimmel was Pontiac's third emergency manager, serving since September 2011.

Pontiac is a radically different city than it was five years ago. The city’s general fund budget is about half what it used to be.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Pontiac school district leaders have seven days to decide what path they wish to follow to address the district’s financial emergency.

Governor Rick Snyder has officially confirmed his determination that Pontiac schools are in a financial emergency. 

pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

A state review team has determined the Pontiac school district is saddled with so much debt it’s in a financial crisis.

Now it’s up to Governor Rick Snyder to decide whether he agrees with that determination.

The state-appointed board found the school district’s debt has continued to grow over the past five years and it’s now almost $38 million dollars in the red with no credible plan to dig out. The district has missed paying some critical bills, including employee health insurance premiums.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Buena Vista schools will become the second district to be permanently dissolved under a new state law this week.

After Buena Vista shut down without warning in May, state legislators decided they needed an additional tool to deal with fiscal emergencies besides the emergency manager law.

The new law requires financially troubled districts to prove they have enough money to make it through an entire school year. If not, they can be dissolved. That happened to Inkster's school district last week.

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Detroit Public Schools get new emergency manager

Governor Rick Snyder has named Jack Martin as the new emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools. Martin replaces Roy Roberts, who is retiring after two years in the position. Martin is leaving his position as Detroit’s chief financial officer.  Roberts says DPS still has a long way to go, but conditions are noticeably better than when he started; the current budget deficit is more than $70 million.

Retiree health care coverage suspended in Pontiac

Pontiac’s emergency manager Louis Schimmel has proposed the Emergency Loan Board address an expected $6 million general fund shortfall in the current budget year. The board approved a plan to suspend health care coverage for retirees from the city of Pontiac and increase their monthly pension payments. The city's roughly 1,000 pensioners will get an extra $400 a month to buy their own health care, the Associated Press reports.

EPA now accepting Great Lakes grant applications

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has $9.5 million to distribute for Great Lakes projects and is looking for takers. The money comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Obama administration program to clean up and protect the lakes from a variety of threats. A webinar explaining the application process will be held July 30.

mich.gov / Michigan Government

Detroit’s answer to the famous bus tours of New York City is emerging this week.

Well, kind of.

On Wednesday, Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr will lead creditors on a guided bus tour through the city. But the tour won’t be highlighting the city’s landmarks. Instead, the creditors will be checking out dire conditions in some of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

From the Associated Press:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The city of Benton Harbor has been under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager for more than three years. Now some elected leaders in the state’s poorest city are proposing a new way to raise revenue.

Benton Harbor has done a lot to try to get out of debt; laid off workers, combined the police and fire departments, restructured its loans. But City Commissioner Trenton Bowens is convinced the city of roughly 10,000 people needs a citywide income tax.

pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

Gov. Rick Snyder has named six people to review the finances of the Pontiac School District, a step that could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager or other measures for the Oakland County district struggling with a $38 million budget deficit.

 A three-member Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board on June 6 found "probable financial stress" in the district.

Under the new emergency manager law, if a financial emergency is found to exist, Pontiac officials have four options. They can enter a consent agreement with the state, agree to an emergency manager, go through a neutral evaluation process, or choose bankruptcy.

Here's a list of all school districts and cities that engaged with the state's emergency manager law (the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act).

Department of Treasury

The city of Hamtramck will once again be under state control.

The Department of Treasury announced Governor Rick Snyder's appointment of an emergency manager for the city of Hamtramck.

Gov. Snyder selected Pontiac City Administrator Cathy Square. She will assume the position on July 1, 2013. 

According to a press release from the Treasury, Hamtramck City Council waived its right to appeal the finding of a financial emergency and unanimously supported the appointment of an EM by the Governor. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

With a little luck and another loan from the state, Muskegon Heights Public Schools’ Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon is predicting the district will pay of its debt the year 2041.

Don Weatherspoon told a small crowd gathered in the high school auditorium Monday night he hopes to hand local control back to the district’s elected school board in one year.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights Public  Schools had nearly a $12 million deficit at the end of last school year. That's when the district’s newly appointed Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon said the district couldn't afford to open school in the fall. He laid off most all the staff and hired charter school company Mosaica Education to run the schools for five years.

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Medicaid goes to House floor

Yesterday, the Michigan House Competitiveness Committee voted to send the Medicaid expansion bill to the floor. Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that while Republicans were split on the issue, “Democrats on the panel all voted in favor of the bill. That’s after lawmakers dropped a controversial plan to limit able-bodied adults to four years on Medicaid. But they say they’re still concerned about language that would raise premiums and co-pays for some patients after four years.”

Questions for Governor about Detroit's emergency manager

Concerns have been raised about Governor Rick Snyder’s process in selecting Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s emergency manager. Rick Pluta reports that “a judge says Governor Rick Snyder’s office must turn over e-mails and other records related to the candidate search for a Detroit emergency manager. The judge’s order is related to a lawsuit that alleges Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was hired illegally. The lawsuit claims the process was rigged and carried out in violation of Michigan’s open meetings law.”

Heroin incidents on the rise in Michigan

A rash of heroin overdoses occurred in Washtenaw County last week, and incidents are on the rise across parts of the state. “Authorities say a particularly toxic heroin mix known by some on the street as ‘black shadow’ appears to be circulating in southeast Michigan communities, causing a rise in overdoses and at least one death this month,” report Robin Erb and Tammy Stables Battaglia of the Detroit Free Press.

The Muskegon Heights school system has been fined nearly $100,000 by the Michigan Department of Education. The department launched the investigation after Michigan Radio reported the new Muskegon Heights charter school district had about 10% of teachers working without a valid teaching certificate or permit. It’s against state law to do that.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Kyle Norris and Jack Lessenberry talk about Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate, and the financial emergency in the city of Hamtramck.

Stephen Boyle

Earlier this morning, Detroit’s city council voted unanimously to override Mayor Dave Bing’s veto of budget cuts proposed by the council.

Last week, the mayor rejected changes the city council wanted implemented in the city’s $1-billion budget for fiscal year 2013-14, including cuts to his own office. The Detroit News reported:

“The council wanted deeper cuts to Bing's staff and quicker implementation of a new health care cost-sharing formula.

Bing however did not turn down deeper cuts the council recommended for its own department and the consolidation of its divisions.”

The council's override of Bing's veto was unanimous (8-0). Charles Pugh, the president of the council, said this was proof that the council was “standing united.”

But with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr at the helm of the city’s finances, how much does a united city council matter when it comes to Detroit’s budget?

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

State Supreme Court Justice faces sentencing

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is due in court today to be sentenced for fraud. Hathaway was forced to resign in January when she pleaded guilty to a scheme to cheat the bank by hiding assets.  Hathaway’s attorney is asking that she be allowed to perform community service and pay thousands of dollars in fines; however, federal prosecutors have asked for prison time of 12 to 18 months. Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta has more.

Benton Harbor EM believes deficit will be eliminated in one year

Tony Saunders, the emergency manager of Benton Harbor, says elected leaders are likely to regain control within a year when the city's structural deficit will be eliminated. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports Benton Harbor’s new emergency manager says he’s cut more than a million dollars from the budget in just three months.

Senator Debbie Stabenow's farm bill is headed to the senate

Senator Debbie Stabenow will rally in West Michigan this week. She's trying to get farmers to pressure lawmakers to pass her new farm bill to funds crop insurance programs and research to help fight invasive insects. Last year the Senate passed the farm bill but it died in the House. The Senate is expected to vote on the farm bill early next month.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor’s new emergency manager says the city is on track to eliminate its structural deficit within a year. The city's finances have been under state control for more than three years.

Emergency Manager Tony Saunders started in February after the state ended the previous manager's contract at the city commission’s request.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

New reports show special education students in Muskegon Heights didn’t get all the services they should have this year. The company that runs the state’s first all-charter public school district is working to correct the problems.

Problems with charter company’s handling of special ed services

Federal law and state regulations outline the rules that are supposed to make sure kids with special needs still get a fair education.

Michigan’s Department of Education found more than a dozen ways the new Muskegon Heights charter district violated those rules, affecting a couple hundred special education students.

“In my opinion this was probably the worst delivery of special education services I’ve seen in my career,” said Norm Kittleson, a former special education teacher at Muskegon Heights. He’s been teaching for 15 years.

Kittleson started teaching a small class of students with learning disabilities and emotional issues at Muskegon Heights last October.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Battle Creek State Senator Mike Nofs says he doesn’t think higher than expected revenue in the school aid fund should be used to bail out struggling school districts.

Nofs says at today’s revenue estimating conference, state officials will announce the school aid fund has nearly $100 million more than predicted.

Nofs expects there will be push to use that money to help the struggling Pontiac and Buena Vista school districts. But he says that’s not a good idea.

Kalkaska schools

No doubt, public schools in Michigan are struggling.

Around 400 students in the Buena Vista school district in Saginaw have been shut out after the district announced they couldn't make payroll.

And it was revealed yesterday that Pontiac schools are close to running out of money and might have to close their doors early.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Saginaw area school district that's closed its doors has now asked the state to review its finances.

That's the first step toward a state appointed emergency manager.

But the move does not guarantee the District's 400 students will be back in class anytime soon.

The Buena Vista school board heard from parents and students last night, angry about the abrupt and apparent early end of the school year.

“If we don’t get these kids back in school…we’re going to be the ones who destroyed their lives,” one upset father told the school board. 

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Flint’s Emergency Manager, Ed Kurtz, says he will resign come June 30th, which may put Flint a step closer to returning to local control. Flint Mayor Dayne Walling talks with Jennifer White about the financial future of Flint.

Flint’s city council recently passed a resolution asking Governor Rick Snyder to remove the city’s emergency manager and appoint a transition advisory team.

“There are a number of requirements in the law that would have to be met by the appointed manager before a transition board could be put in place, such as the adoption of a two-year budget. So, city council leadership and I have been calling on for those steps to get done as soon as possible. The city of Flint does face financial challenges, let’s get addressed as soon as possible so we can move on,” says Mayor Walling.

When asked how financially healthy Flint is right now, Walling says:

“It’s marginally stable. But our position is that it’s going to take some long-term planning, some serious community partnerships to get the city to where it’s more sustainable going forward. And that work cannot be done effectively by an appointed manager.”

Listen to the full interview above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People in Benton Harbor voted overwhelmingly to raise property taxes to support city services in Tuesday’s election.

That’s after voters rejected a similar set of proposals last November. The city is already running in the red and the millage represents around 20-percent of the city’s income.

“You just can’t see me dancing in the streets on the radio,” Mayor James Hightower said over the phone Tuesday night, “It’s a great day in Benton Harbor.”

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The financial storm has been brewing at the Buena Vista School District outside of Saginaw for some time, but it came to a head today.

The Buena Vista School District announced that the school is closed today and that teachers will be laid off.

A community meeting is expected to be held at 6 p.m tonight.

The District has faced declining enrollment at a time when public education funds are being cut in the state.

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