In April 2010 the State of Michigan appointed an emergency financial manager for Benton Harbor to prevent the city from going bankrupt.
“The mood has changed and it is not as adversarial as it was a year ago,” Benton Harbor City Commissioner Bryan Joseph said after a town hall meeting Wednesday night.
Joseph says people are noticing the changes Emergency Manager Joe Harris has made. Joseph lists park improvements, demolition of condemned buildings, and more effective, responsive city government.
- Budget balanced this year for the first time in 10 years
- State of Michigan has approved Deficit Elimination Plan
- City looking to hire a new, permanent city manager
Harris expects the city will have run a budget surplus next year. Harris also expects his state appointment as emergency manager in Benton Harbor will end in the next 6 to 8 months.
The mood at a Benton Harbor town hall meeting last night was a complete turnaround from 6 months ago. Harris ended his monthly presentation with a multi-media picture slide show of improvements in the city featuring McFadden and Whitehead’s “Ain’t no stoppin’ us now” – a spin on Benton Harbor’s slogan “a city on the move”.
“This little interruption of your elected officials’ authority in my opinion is going to turn out to be a very good thing,” Harris concluded, “I didn’t know that a year and a half ago.” Harris told the group of about two-dozen people it’s been a good experience for him too.