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Flint budget calls for higher fees/curtailed city services

flint budget present2012 008.JPG
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
Flint emergency manager Michael Brown (at the podium) explains his fiscal year 2013 budget to the FLint city council

Next year, the city of Flint will charge residents higher fees in exchange for less service.

The budget plan unveiled last night was greeted with anger from city residents and city council members.

The budget plan calls for trimming 20 percent of city government workers from the payroll.   Flint police officers and firefighters are not being spared.   The emergency manager didn't include public safety officers in the budget whose positions are funded with grant money that hasn't been secured yet.

The Flint city budget also raises city sewer and lighting fees.    The average property owner will pay an additional $200 in city fees in fiscal year 2013. 

Emergency manager Michael Brown says the spending cuts and fee hikes are needed to close a $25 million gap in next year’s budget.

"The first step to recovery is to stabilize the city’s finances," Brown told the city council during a meeting he called at Flint city hall. 

After Brown left the city council chamber once he and the city's finance director concluded their presentation, several city residents rose to denounce the budget plan. 

City councilman Sheldon Neeley says the emergency manager’s budget will hurt too many people, who can’t afford to pay the city anymore and who can’t afford to get less in return. 

“It’s going to devastate these families that are trying to make it every day now," says Neeley,   "(Emergency Manager Michael Brown)  just came here with that serrated blade and went to cutting.” 

The city of Flint is also wants the state to let it sell 18 million dollars in bonds to pay off the city’s past debt.    Brown says he hopes to hear back from the state on the fiscal stabilization bond request sometime next month. 

The emergency manager says there’s no other way for Flint to close out the debt that the city’s accrued over the past two years.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.