Flint EFM organizes council committees, a step to returning loca - WNEM TV 5

Flint EFM organizes council committees, a step to returning local power

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

A meeting in Flint on Wednesday night may very well be an early sign that city leaders could soon be back in charge of the struggling city.

"This whole exercise is designed to, at some point, have the city council and the mayor function as the governing body of the city of Flint, without an emergency manager," explained current Emergency Financial Manager Darnell Earley.

Flint's City Council has been powerless for the last two years.  That's when the state came in with an emergency financial manager to deal with the city's multi-million dollar budget deficit.

But on Wednesday, the current emergency financial manager sat on the sidelines, starting the process of turning power back to local government.

"We have to make sure we don't go into the same situation that got us in what we're in right now," said council member Wantwaz Davis.

Call it a tutorial.  Earley said there are a lot of things this council needs to know about current finances and the plan he's put in place to dig the city out of the deficit, and he's established small committees to help council members get back on top of things.

"It makes sense to transition into that while the city is under emergency management to get them to the point where they can function as an elected body, and provide the services that the taxpayers pay for," said Earley.

It is still not clear exactly when power will be turned back over to the local level, but council member Joshua Freeman said this is a good step.

"It wouldn't do anybody any justice for them to just dump it on our lap and say here you go, we've done these things, and it's up to you to keep them going and move forward," said Freeman.

As one city council member told TV5, these are baby steps, but they're baby steps that are needed so this council knows exactly what's going on with the city.  Because under the emergency financial manager, they've practically been out of the loop for the past two years.

The finance committee is one of three new committees made up of three council members Earley has put in place to at least start the process of the state returning power to the local level.

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