Michigan Without State-Appointed Emergency Managers for First Time in 18 Years
LANSING -- The State of Michigan is without emergency managers in cities or school districts for the first time in nearly 18 years, Treasurer Nick Khouri said Wednesday.
But views differ widely on how to interpret the landmark development.
Khouri said in a news release the development "is really about the hard work our communities have accomplished to become financially sound."
But former House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said it's a sign of improved local government finances and a long overdue realization by the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder that state takeovers don't work.
Khouri's announcement came after the state released the Highland Park School District from receivership.
The return of that Wayne County school district to self-government marks the first time since 2000 that no city or school district in Michigan has been under the control of an emergency manager or emergency financial manager, as the position was titled under earlier legislation.
"I commend the efforts of our local units to identify problems and bring together the resources needed to help problem-solve challenging financial conditions," Khouri said. "Our state as a whole prospers when communities practice good financial policy."
Detroit, Flint, Highland Park, Benton Harbor, and Pontiac are among the cities that have been controlled by emergency managers in recent years, along with school districts in Detroit and Muskegon Heights.
Several investigations into the Flint drinking water crisis -- including a task force appointed to Snyder -- pointed to the removal of local government control through state appointment of an emergency manager as a significant contributor to the the public health catastrophe.
"Emergency management has been a disaster in most places where it's been implemented," said Greimel, who welcomed the development. Local government officials should be accountable to the people they serve, but "emergency management completely short-circuits that process by imposing people from the outside who have no accountability to local residents."
Snyder and other state officials have pointed to Detroit as a notable emergency management success story..
Greimel said he agrees Detroit is a success story, but said that is a result of the controlled bankruptcy it went through and financial support it received from the state through the $195-million Grand Bargain approved by the Legislature.
Ron Leix, a spokesman for the Treasury Department, said no broad-brush reason can be given for the absence of emergency managers in Michigan, because "each case that led to the financial emergency is unique in its own right."
Though no emergency managers are now in place, school districts in Detroit, Muskegon Heights, Benton Harbor and Pontiac remain under partial state oversight, he said.
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