Financial Emergency Is Over For Benton Harbor
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WSJV, March 8, 2014)- The City of Benton Harbor’s financial emergency is over. That according to Emergency Manager Tony Saunders. The state announced Saunders recommended the city transition out of state financial control on Friday.
Benton Harbor was put under state receivership in April of 2010. Former Detroit Chief Financial Officer Joseph Harris was appointed by Governor Snyder as the City’s first financial manager. Saunders took over the roll a year ago.
“The City’s accumulated deficit has been eliminated, expenditures have been reduced substantially, and the City has made 100-percent of its annual pension payments for the first time in a decade,” said Saunders in a written statement.
Saunders is not concerned about a possible return to Benton Harbors previous financial troubles any time soon. He told FOX28 that three major factors make him optimistic for the city’s financial future. He said the city has a substantial fund in place, new mechanisms have been put in place to protect the pension fund, and a Transition Advisory Board will be appointed to help guide city government through the transition.
Additionally, Saunders said part of his final order as Emergency Manager was to mandate annual training for city commissioners in financial management.
There are still concerns about the city’s failing infrastructure. Saunders said one of the first priorities for the city manager will be to develop a 6-year plan for capital improvement.