Finance

Governor to Free Pontiac, Mich., from Emergency Financial Management

Gov. Rick Snyder announced Monday that the financial emergency in Pontiac was over and that the city no longer needed to be run by an emergency manager.
August 20, 2013

Gov. Rick Snyder announced Monday that the financial emergency in Pontiac was over and that the city no longer needed to be run by an emergency manager.

“I’m pleased to see Pontiac emerge as a financially stable city and return to local control,” Snyder said.

The governor made the announcement in the course of naming four people — including the city’s emergency manager Lou Schimmel — to a Transition Advisory Board, which will continue to have the final word on spending in the city until the governor’s office decides otherwise, according to a 13-page statement posted on the city’s website.

Although the appointment of the advisory board was expected because it’s required as part of the state law that empowers emergency managers, some Pontiac residents assailed it as an indefinite delay in returning democratic rule to the city.

“There’s no time line for ending this transition board — that’s up to the governor,” said Pontiac City Councilman Kermit Wiliams.

“The question is whether this new leadership is going to be accountable to the people, and I don’t know yet,” said Wiliams, 30, who said he works for his sister’s Web design firm to augment his pay as a part-time councilman. Council members have said that during the period of state oversight, their pay was slashed from about $15,500 per year to $100 per weekly meeting, and their benefits eliminated, including use of city cars.

Pontiac’s city government was in a financial shambles when the first of three emergency managers was appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in March 2009, state Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton said.

Under Schimmel’s leadership, city expenses were slashed, the city’s police and fire services have been contracted out and golf courses have been sold. Effective Monday, the city’s mayor and council were to assume their former roles.

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