Tuesday, March 02, 2010

[On Mon. March 1] Benton Harbor commissioners vote against financial help for now

"We do not want anybody to come into this city and assert the authority of the elected official and sell off all the city's assets. This, I believe, is a land grab," shares Mayor Wilce Cook.

[What would motivate Gov. G. to "help" a poor city, an action completely out of character for our Corporate Governor? The answer is: Whirlpool & Harbor Shores. No constructive "help" - as in job creation - ever comes to BH.]

Alana.Greenfogel@WNDU.com

...Benton Harbor commissioners all agree their city has a financial problem. But they disagree on how to fix it. City Commissioners decided in a 6-3 vote Monday night they don’t want financial help from the state until their questions are answered.

Now, they’ll get that opportunity at a hearing in Lansing on March 17th.

A state financial review team assessed the city’s finances and found a laundry list of problems, among them, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS. That team, and subsequently Governor Jennifer Granholm, recommend an emergency financial manager come knock some sense—and dollars and cents—into the city.

Monday night lawmakers voted to appeal that decision, instead wanting to know why the city’s list of 62 solutions, including 14 passed resolutions, aren’t satisfactory.

"We believe we've made substantial progress and there's been no acknowledgment from the state government," says Ron Carter, City Manager.

The review team says in its letter to Governor Granholm that Carter’s plan is not viable, and even if it was, the team has “no confidence that there would be sufficient stability” considering 15 city managers have held the position in Benton Harbor in the last 28 years.

"If you're going to send somebody down here to help us, that's fine, I go along with that,” says George Moon, a Benton Township resident who attended the meeting. “But I just hope it's not nobody from her (Governor Granholm’s) regime. They can't take care of their own business.”

Commissioners Dennis Knowles, Bryan Joseph and James Hightower voted against the appeal, saying the city needs help immediately.

"No one wants to invest in a city that's financially unstable," explains Joseph.

Other commissioners say the city doesn’t need the state’s help at all.

"Some of us was in the position to make the call for a takeover. But we didn't call for a takeover," says Commissioner Duane Seats.

Perhaps the most popular sentiment is welcoming the state’s help but under the city’s oversight and direction. City lawmakers don’t want someone else making decisions for them.

"We do not want anybody to come into this city and assert the authority of the elected official and sell off all the city's assets. This, I believe, is a land grab," shares Mayor Wilce Cook.

Since the commissioners appealed the governor’s conclusions to send an emergency financial manager to the Berrien County city, Benton Harbor officials will attend a hearing in Lansing on March 17th.

http://www.wndu.com/hometop/headlines/85919832.html

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