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October 25, 2023

Special council meeting called to put ARPA dollars to work for Flint residents

The City of Flint administration is calling a special city council meeting tomorrow, Thursday, October 26 for the purpose of allocating ARPA funds to priority community projects as outlined in the City’s ARPA plan.

The agenda will include new resolutions, as well as resolutions that the council has not acted on at previous meetings. Many of these allocations are the administration’s recommendations for community grant programs.

One proposed allocation for the North Side City of Flint Customer Service Center would be implemented internally by the City of Flint.

The administration is also proposing an additional $1 million for home repair. The City of Flint is finalizing arrangements with service providers and expects applications to open for intake next week.

Berston Field House Renovation and Expansion

The first new resolution proposes a $1 million allocation to Friends of Berston for the renovation and expansion of Berston Field House. This would be allocated from the Contingency line item of the ARPA Allocation Plan adopted by the Flint City Council on October 24, 2022.

The Mott Foundation President Ridgway White announced today at a groundbreaking ceremony for Berston Field House that the foundation will provide matching funds for all donations to the project, turning Flint’s additional allocation of $1 million into $2 million.

“It’s very important to put these dollars to work for the people of Flint,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “We have the opportunity double the impact of ARPA of dollars for the oldest recreational facility in the city of Flint, doubling our investment.”

In November 2022, the City kicked off a capital campaign for Berston Field House with an allocation of $1.5 million in ARPA funds to support the renovation and expansion of the City’s historic community center—a powerhouse of athletic achievement, community engagement for 100 years.

Alternative Uses of Vacant Lots

The City is also proposing $350,000 for alternative uses of vacant lots, as outlined in the City’s ARPA allocation plan. These funds would be granted to six community organizations to implement projects using vacant lots.

A grant of $100,000 to Active Boys in Christ would fund the development a vacant lot at 2701 Branch Rd. into the outdoor space of a youth training center for ages 7-17. The funds would be used to develop a portion of the property into a community garden, outdoor play area, and a full outdoor basketball court.

A grant of $125,000 to Friends of Berston would specifically fund site improvements and the demolition of abandoned buildings on vacant lots to build the new baseball diamond and soccer field as part of its larger project. Berston will expand its site from 6.85 acres to 14.60 acres by purchasing an abandoned church property to the northeast and vacant residential property to the south.

With this additional property, Berston will move the current softball field and outdoor basketball courts, add much needed on-site parking, add a Little League baseball field, a football/soccer/lacrosse field, pickleball courts, playgrounds, a splashpad, and add an outdoor amphitheater venue for summer concerts.

A $25,000 grant to Communities First would add an additional vacant lot to the third and final phase of its Foodie Commons @ the Flowershop. Envisioned as Flint’s first dedicated food truck park, Foodie Commons will offer supports for small businesses, flexible community gathering spaces for events like neighborhood meetings and amenities for all seasons.

Carriage Town Neighborhood Association would use a $25,000 grant to develop a playground at an informal pocket park. While numerous parks are near the neighborhood, none offer play equipment for children and families. During the covid-19 pandemic, residents created this pop-up space to support social gatherings with live music, games, and local vendors.

A $25,000 grant to Hispanic Technology Center would fund a pavilion and picnic table project at a neighborhood pocket park on two vacant lots that were adjacent to the center. This project was identified as a priority through a community engagement process—part of a long-term vision of transforming Lewis Street into Flint’s Latinx District.

Finally, Mott Community College would use a $50,000 grant for the Clark Commons Garden and Park Project. This will include a community garden with fruit trees and a small park with recreational space, seating, art, and an outdoor exercise area.

Gap Financing for Residential and Mixed-Use Projects

The administration also recommends funding Gap Financing contracts in the amount of $1,400,000 from the category of Neighborhood Improvement as proposed in the City’s ARPA Allocation Plan on October 24, 2022.

This includes eight separate allocations for community projects:

$100,000 for MADE Institute to renovate five transitional houses for returning citizens.

$125,000 for Communities First to develop affordable housing at 716 S. Grand Traverse.

$150,000 for Habitat for Humanity’s Sylvan Court Almost Home Project.

$200,000 for YMCA to develop 50 residential units.

$125,000 for McFarlan Village to expand quality and affordable housing at 800 E. Court St.

$125,000 for McFarlan Village to revitalize 700 E. Court St.

$400,000 for Catholic Charities for the Sacred Heart Village tiny home community at 719 E. Moore St.

$175,000 for Hispanic Technology Center’s Early Childhood Center.

Full list of resolutions to be considered:

  • Amended Resolution/ ARP A Fund Utilization/Pandemic Impact on Health Disparities of Pregnant-New Mothers and Their Infants in Flint/Michigan State/University/Flint RX Kids Program (Resolution #230281.1)
  • ARPA Fund Award/LatinXTechnogy Center/Impacts of the Pandemic on Blight (Resolution #230304)
  • ARPA Funding Award/Neighborhood Engagement Hub/Impacts on the Pandemic on Blight (Resolution #230310)
  • ARPA Funds Award/James E. Kennedy Family Life Center/Impacs of the Pandemic on Blight/Ward 1 (Resolution #230319)
  • ARPA Funds Award/Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village [SBEV]/Impacts of the Pandemic on Blight/Ward 3 (Resolution #230320)
  • Approval/Lease for 4813 Clio Road/Pilot Project/North Side City of Flint/Customer Service Center (Resolution #230334)
  • Resolution for 2nd ARPA Grant in Support ofBerston Field House Capital Improvements (Resolution #TBD)
  • Resolution to Proceed with ARPA Funds Grants for Alternative Uses of Vacant Lots (Resolution #TBD)
  • Resolution to Proceed with ARP A GAP Financing for Residential and Mixed-Use Projects (Resolution #TBD)
  • Resolution to Revise Prior Adopted ARPA Home Repair Resolutions to Increase Spending Authority and Increase Number of Households Served (Resolution #TBD)
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September 7, 2023

Phillip Moore named City of Flint Chief Financial Officer

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley announced on Sept. 6, 2023 that Phillip Moore will join the City of Flint team as the new Chief Financial Officer.

Moore brings a wealth of experience in municipal finance, administration, and pension system management.

“I am excited to welcome Phil Moore to Flint as we close out the successful transition period following Robert Widigan’s departure,” Mayor Neeley said. “Mr. Moore’s deep experience in local government finance and pension system management will keep the City of Flint on a path of fiscal stability and sound decision-making.”

Moore comes to the City of Flint from the Pontiac General Employees Retirement System, where he served as Finance Officer, managing over $500 million in assets. Prior to that, he served the City of Alma for 26 years as Finance Director and Assistant City Manager, and then as City Manager.

At the City of Alma, Moore supervised all financial reporting, accounting, purchasing, payroll, investments, budgeting, debt management and tax collection activities of the City. He created cross-governmental partnerships to address infrastructure challenges and support economic development.

“I grew up in Owosso and I spent a lot of my youth coming to Flint,” Moore said. “Flint was always a very exciting place to visit, and I have many fond memories of Flint. Now, I hope to contribute to Flint’s rebirth. I’ve spent much of my career working to make Alma a better place to live, and I bring the same goal and passion for Flint.”

Moore will serve as interim CFO and his appointment will go before the Flint City Council for its consent as outlined in the Flint City Charter.

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June 9, 2023

Flint Mayor Neeley’s fourth consecutive balanced budget approved by Flint City Council

The Flint City Council passed Mayor Sheldon Neeley’s fourth consecutive balanced budget last night with no amendments and without any “no” votes.

“This balanced budget represents an increase in pay for all city workers as established through collective bargaining agreements, as well as increases in staffing levels and enhanced city services for residents,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “We are very proud to see this administration’s fourth consecutive balanced budget brought to life for the benefit of the Flint community.”

Mayor Neeley initially introduced the budget to the Flint City Council on March 8, 2023. The budget invests in retiree pensions as required by state law and enhances public safety and city services, with no increase in property tax rates, fees, or utility costs for residents. The budget also includes an additional $1 million for blight elimination.

Information about the State of Michigan’s “Protecting Michigan Pensions” grant program was included in Mayor Neeley’s budget message to residents and the Flint City Council. The State of Michigan has allocated $170 million to stabilize the City of Flint’s pension fund through this program in the coming fiscal year, and the City continues to pursue an additional $50 million in funding.

“We are excited that our partners in the state legislature and Governor Whitmer have committed to supporting Flint residents and retirees by passing the Protecting Michigan Pensions program,” Flint City Administrator Clyde Edwards said. “By passing this legislation, they are sending a message that they have confidence in Flint’s continued growth and development as a strong economic driver in our region. As we’ve engaged in the process of securing these funds, we have been continually reassured by our State of Michigan partners that we are on track to receive these dollars to stabilize Flint’s pension fund. We are planning cautiously to ensure that the pension funding will have the greatest possible impact.”

In addition to Mayor Neeley’s budget presentation on March 8, the Flint City Council held four budget hearings on April 12, April 26, May 10, and May 15, where council members had the opportunity to dialogue with City of Flint department heads and other staff.

“I want to underscore the level of transparency provided in this budget process,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “In addition to my annual presentation of the budget and the documentation made available to the public, City of Flint staff participated in four budget hearings with city council members and did an outstanding job sharing information and demonstrating the impact of their work on quality of life in the city of Flint. The administration came to the table in the spirit of collaboration, and we are pleased with the outcome.”

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June 5, 2023

Flint reaches $2 billion in economic investment within one year on Mayor Neeley’s watch

June 5, 2023—Under Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley’s watch, the city of Flint has driven over $2 billion in economic development investment in the past year alone. The city reached that total when General Motors announced on June 5 that it will invest $815 million in the Flint Assembly plant, as well as $233 million in the Flint Metal Center, positioning Flint autoworkers to stay on the cutting edge of truck manufacturing.

Ashley Capital breaks ground on Buick City redevelopment

Ashley Capital held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 5 at the former Buick City brownfield, bringing an investment of $300 million. Ashley Capital plans to build up to 3.5 million square feet of state-of-the-art, light industrial distribution space, which has the potential to bring up to 3,000 jobs to the north side of Flint. Those jobs could pay upwards of $20 per hour.

“Today, we are witnessing a historic investment in Flint’s north side, unlike anything we’ve seen for decades,” Mayor Neeley said. “This is a promise made and a promise kept to bring renewed economic development and opportunity for Flint families, putting us on an exciting growth trajectory. I want to thank Ashley Capital for partnering with us, and for recognizing the capacity of the Flint community to be a major economic driver in our region. This is a gamechanger for Flint.”

Established in 1984, Ashley Capital has a long and successful track record of remedying blighted brownfields and breathing life back into these sites, often before tenants are secured to fill them. Ashley Capital brings a deep bench of current partners and expertise in marketing their space to other businesses. They plan to build up to 10 buildings, with the first expected to be completed in early 2024.

“Instead of having one business that’s manufacturing something that owns the site, we’re going to have a business whose job is to make sure businesses are here,” State Senator John Cherry Jr. said. “So if a manufacturer goes bankrupt or moves to a different location, Ashley Capital is still going to be here, and they’re going to have an interest in making sure there’s another manufacturer or another business that is located here. So the exciting thing for me is, we’re not going to see a repeat of what happened on this site 20 years ago.”

By the numbers: $2 billion in economic investments within one year

$16.7 million: Communities First is making fast work of a new mixed-use development at the corner of Grand Traverse and University Ave. after breaking ground in July 2022. The project will bring over 40 affordable housing units with an investment of $16.7 million.

$300 million: Ashley Capital announced their investment in the Flint Commerce Center project in November 2022 after a public-private partnership came together to support site preparation of the Buick City brownfield, including the removal of underground utilities, concrete slabs, and foundations. In addition to Ashley Capital’s investment of $300 million, the City of Flint and Genesee County contributed $3.25 million each in ARPA funds, the Mott Foundation contributed $2 million, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation awarded a $8.5 million MSF performance-based loan with the ability to be forgiven if construction milestones are met.

$23 million: Genesee Health Systems cut the ribbon on a new Center for Children’s Integrated Services in downtown Flint in November 2022. The $23 million facility provides a host of mental health and primary care resources for children, conveniently located at the intersection of Saginaw St. and I-69 in downtown Flint.

$579 million: In addition to the investments announced today, General Motors announced an investment of $579 million in Flint Engine Operations in January 2023, equipping the plant to assemble new V-8 engines.

$10 million: ACI Plastics announced in February 2023 that it will build a new state-of-the-art plastic processing facility in Flint. This $10 million investment will create 25-30 new jobs with wages of $15-20 per hour. The new facility will make ACI Plastics the largest processor of post-consumer recycled plastic film in Michigan.

$4.3 million: Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority rounded out its fleet of renewable-energy buses with two new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. With its final two diesel buses decommissioned, MTA has completed its transition to running clean energy public transportation. This $4.3 million investment, along with MTA’s production of hydrogen fuel, positions Flint for more high-tech jobs, educational partnerships with area colleges and universities, and the development of new technologies in an in-demand industry.

**$33.5 million: **Flint celebrated another groundbreaking in May 2023 for a new mixed use development that will include the YMCA of Greater Flint, the Crim Fitness Foundation offices and program space, and 50 apartments. NBA Star and Flint native Kyle Kuzma donated $1 million to the project, recognizing the amenities’ potential to support healthy lifestyles and opportunity for Flint kids. The total project cost is estimated to be $33-40 million.

Today: Flint reaches $2 billion in economic investment within one year with the announcement of new investments by General Motors

General Motors announced today an investment of $816 million in Flint Assembly to prepare the plant to build next-generation internal combustion heavy duty trucks. This investment will support expansion of the Body Shop, Paint Shop system updates, new tooling and equipment, and conveyer expansions. In addition, General Motors announced a $233 million investment in the Flint Metal Center for press refurbishments and equipment upgrades. These investments will help retain over 5,500 Flint jobs.

“As the grandson of retired General Motors UAW workers, I’m proud to see us carry on the legacy as autoworkers in Flint today,” Mayor Neeley said. “My grandparents came here as they migrated from the South for good paying jobs to support their family. The investments we’re seeing today will allow Flint families now and, in the future, to have the same level of opportunity, even as the auto industry continues to evolve. Across the city of Flint today, we are seeing new real estate, new amenities, and new industries, and we are proud that General Motors is part of this upward trend in growth and opportunity.”

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April 11, 2023

City of Flint introduces Acting Chief Financial Officer Jane Mager

Jane Mager brings over 30 years of experience in corporate and non-profit accounting and leadership to the role of Acting Chief Financial Officer at the City of Flint. Mager holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a master’s degree in Management and Strategy.

“Jane Mager brings a wealth of experience to the City of Flint, and I’m confident that we are in capable hands as we continue through this year’s budget process together,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “I’m proud that we continue to attract seasoned professionals like Mager who come to the City of Flint with the goal of giving back to the community. I’m thankful for her service to our great city.”

Most recently, Mager worked for five years as Financial Controller for a local trucking company in Flint Township. Her career has spanned the automotive, facility maintenance, property management, media, and transportation industries.

Mager started at the City of Flint in October 2022 as a temporary employee through the Robert Half Agency, covering for the former Deputy CFO during a maternity leave. When that employee decided not to return, Mager applied for the Deputy CFO job. She received the position and became the permanent Deputy CFO on February 3, 2023.

When the Chief Financial Officer position became vacant, Mayor Sheldon Neeley and City Administrator Clyde Edwards approached Mager about stepping up as Acting CFO. She assumed that position April 7, 2023.

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March 23, 2023

Flint, Michigan's finances stable but fragile as citizens get closer to state settlement payout

Please see below to view the "Flint, Michigan's finances stable but fragile as citizens get closer to state settlement payout" article.

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January 25, 2023

Machine-readable disclosure has 'revolutionized' Flint's financial reports, CFO says

Please see below to view the "Machine-readable disclosure has 'revolutionized' Flint's financial reports, CFO says" article.

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December 31, 2022

Digitizing Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports

Please see the attached article below.

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December 7, 2022

A Chance to Make Government Financial Data Transparent and User-Friendly

Congress may soon pass the Financial Data Transparency Act (FDTA), which would require certain regulatory agencies to adopt data standards that would increase transparency and make financial information more easily accessible. In effect, the legislation would require data reported on behalf of municipal bond issuers to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board to be in a machine-readable format instead of the current PDF document format.

The FDTA is part of a larger trend already underway to modernize how governments at all levels collect, use and share data with the public. We believe the long-term upsides of streamlined reporting and increased transparency far outweigh any short-term transition costs.

Some groups associated with municipal governments and public finance are arguing that the FDTA would create an unfunded burden for them to change how they report financial data. They also object to standards being imposed from the top down without giving municipal stakeholders a seat at the table. We agree that local governments will need resources to implement the act and that they should be involved in designing the data standards. In fact, we’ve already gotten a significant head start in tackling these challenges.

Last year, the University of Michigan Center for Local, State and Urban Policy and the city of Flint, Mich., teamed up with a nonprofit data standard-setter, XBRL US, to create and pilot an open data standard for government financial reporting. With funding from the C.S. Mott Foundation, we designed an XBRL data standard based on annual comprehensive financial reports (ACFRs), the most important source of local government financial data.

Local governments like Flint use the data in their ACFRs to generate multiple reports to state and federal agencies, the bond market, the Census and the public. The process is duplicative, labor-intensive and prone to error. With open data standards, local governments can generate the data one time and make it instantly available to all stakeholders in a digital format that is searchable, sortable and more user-friendly.

Today, if someone — say a municipal investor, a researcher, a labor negotiator or a reporter — wanted to learn about Flint’s pension plan, for example, they could download a PDF version of its most recent financial statements and flip through to the pages describing the plan. Then if they wanted to do any kind of analysis, they would need to look up PDFs for other years and copy the data into a spreadsheet.

If a data standard like the one we designed was used, however, they would only need to visit a website to access an online database with the plan’s assets, liabilities, funded ratio, annual contributions, actuarial assumptions and any other desired data points. They could also download the data or use data visualization tools to compare Flint to other cities or look at trends over multiple years.

Using a data standard does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all template or change the meaning of any data points — it simply digitizes them. Flexibility is built in both for those who report and those who use data. Any state or regulatory body could start with the basic data standard we have designed and layer in its own specific reporting requirements, as we have already done for several Michigan reporting requirements as well as for the federal Single Audit report.

To implement this data standard, we used commercially available software donated by Workiva to convert Flint’s most recent financial statements into XBRL format. Because XBRL is an open standard that is used around the world, including by U.S. public companies to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and local governments in other countries, there are many software options available at various price points. And because XBRL is an open standard — nonproprietary and royalty free — any software developer can use it to build applications and tools for local governments. In fact, one of our project goals at the University of Michigan is to create a free Excel-based tool that any local government can use for basic XBRL tagging.

An open data standard also has the potential to translate into lower costs of borrowing for state and local governments. Recent research on the municipal debt market shows that high-quality financial reporting practices improve issuer credit ratings because they reduce information asymmetries between issuers and investors and signal a commitment to sound financial management.

Working to make government financial data open and accessible to all is the right thing to do, and it is long overdue. Financial transparency is absolutely essential to maintaining trust between governments and the public, and those bonds of trust are strongest at the local level. But equally important, governments should have the resources to get the most value out of the data they already produce, to generate evidence that supports sound decision-making and that allows governments to tell their stories.

Stephanie Leiser leads the Fiscal Health Project in the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy. Robert J.F. Widigan is the chief financial officer for the city of Flint, Mich.

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October 7, 2022

City of Flint Economic Development Department provides impact report

Since 2020, the City of Flint has seen $119,817,000 in investment. This includes $75 million in investment from Allegiant Airlines, $18 million from Genesee Health Systems, and $10 million from Hirotec.

Since 2020, 434 jobs have been created in the City of Flint that pay over $13 per hour. This includes 100 jobs created by Hirotec, 90 by Goyette, and 80 by Allegiant.

So far in 2022, the City of Flint has seen $9,837,000 in investment and 49 new jobs that pay over $13 per hour. This includes $8 million from ACI and $1.2 million from Sozo Health.

City of Flint small businesses have gained $1,102,000 since 2021. Small businesses have provided 20% of the jobs created and represent 10% of new investments in Flint since 2021.

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September 27, 2022

Refinancing of the EDC’s Limited Obligation Revenue Bonds, Series 2011 Memorandum

Please see the below memorandum for more information.

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September 26, 2022

“Game changers” for City of Flint: Mayor touts blight, ARPA funds, proposed water credit, infrastructure

Hot topics for Flint residents are city employees’ pension fund, blight elimination, and the spending of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Funds) funds on Flint’s crumbling infrastructure.  One plan for ARPA money distribution includes a $300 water credit for residents, a proposal awaiting City Council consideration.

In a press conference Sept. 22, Mayor Sheldon Neeley addressed each of these items to a standing-room only crowd in the Dome, behind City Hall. Neeley delivered a litany of accomplishments. Neeley, along with Director of Public Works (DPW) Director Mike Brown and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Rob Widigan explained the accomplishments and future plans to tackle these critical areas.

$220 million from the State will relieve threat to city coffers

“We’ve changed the game inside the city of Flint,” Neeley said, referring to $220 million from the State of Michigan budget towards city employees pension fund that was quickly bankrupting the city. Neeley referred to the underfunded pension fund as “the ‘grim reaper ‘over the city of Flint.”

With the additional $220 million from the State Treasury,  the city will be able to allow critical city services to continue, Neeley explained. Without the infusion of State funds many critical services would be affected because the city would be required to pour funds into the mandated pension payment. CFO Widigan explained that the city has “a moral” and “a constitutional mandate to fulfill our promise to retirees,” as reported by East Village Magazine in an Aug. 8, 2022 article.

Flint’s pension funding has been a problem for more than fifteen years, Widigan began.  “The $220 million will move the city from crisis to recovery,” he said.  This has been made possible “through prayer, planning and partnership,” he added, explaining a “structural deficit” is when a city spends more than it brings in in taxes.

Displayed on a screen behind Widigan was the projected “structural deficit” numbers Flint would have endured if not for the $220 million from the State. In 2019 the revenue was $56 million with $52 million in expenses rising to $58 million in revenue to $71.1 million in 2022.

Projected for 2024 was $56 million in revenue and $76 million in expenses. “The Emergency Managers (EM) kicked the can down the road and they made no attempt to address this issue for the residents,” Widigan asserted, referring to the city’s period of state fiscal control by four emergency managers over seven years including the water crisis era.

Initially the state budget called for $170 million to fund Flint’s growing pension budget,  but state legislators worked to add $50 million. bringing the total to $220 million. The added $50 million is specifically designated for all municipalities in Genesee County, including Flint, to help them reach a 60 per cent funded ratio. Previously Flint’s pension budget was funded at 26 per cent.

The influx of the $220 million from the State will lower Flint’s annual pension payment to $18 million from $32 million annual payment.

Pipe replacement “90 percent finished”

According to the city’s website 28,500 lines originally needed to be replaced and 27,000 have been completed. Neeley said the lead line replacement is 90 per cent complete. “There are crews on the ground now working to replace lead lines.” LGC Global of Detroit has contracted with the city of Flint for $17.8 million to complete the lead line replacements and restorations.

Lead line replacements and restorations began in 2016, two years after the Flint Water Crisis emerged.   A line of contractors have been involved with lead line replacement in the ensuing years,  including Rowe Engineering beginning in 2016, Rowe was replaced by retired National Guard General Michael McDaniel in 2017. Finally,  the embattled AECOM was contracted at the end of 2017. According to DPW Director Brown restorations are set to begin this week, September 26.

The city’s website claims the lead level is at 7 ppb (parts per billion) far below the acceptable federal level of 15 ppb. A full progress report on the Flint water can be viewed at this link: www.cityofflint.com/progressreport.

DPW Director Brown explained that the testing of water that is presently being conducted by the city is only on unreplaced lines, lines that are still lead, not copper. “If you have copper lines they’re not being tested,”  he said, adding that both businesses and households are being tested.

Secondary water line sources Flint Water Department from Lake Huron

Touting the completion of a secondary water line,  Brown noted the recent GLWA (Great Lakes Water Authority) water line break necessitated the Flint Water Department to use the newly completed water line. The new secondary water line pulls water from Genesee County Drain Commission, which gets it from Lake Huron.

The Mayor presented a video, also available on the city’s website, which depicts the process of how Flint receives water from Lake Huron. The video can be viewed at this link.(www.cityofflint.com/no-boil-water-advisory-for-city-of-flint-thanks-to-secondary-water-source)

Flint’s secondary water line was approved back in 2018 by EGLE and the EPA. The approval of the contract was embattled between city administration officials and city council until 2021. The completed secondary line involves nearly seven miles of pipe in northeastern Genesee County, from Frances Road to the new Chemical Feed Building on the Flint Water Plant campus at 4500 N. Dort Hwy.

The city of Flint’s main source of water is through GLWA. In 2017 the city council approved, by a 5-4 vote, a 30-year contract to purchase water through GLWA, until the year 2047. The GCDC provides a secondary water source to the city through the newly completed secondary water line. Both GLWA and GCDC’s initial source of water is Lake Huron.

ARPA funds are “a game changer” for Flint – Mayor Neeley

Neeley touted the federal ARPA funds are a “game changer” for Flint. He announced community input from residents is being considered as a spending plan developed for the ARPA funds.

The federal government announced in April 2021 that Flint, along with many other municipalities across the country, would received $94.7 million in stimulus funds. The city of Flint has received more than $47 million in two payments since 2021 and has set out to allocate how those funds should be spent.

In January 2022 city council approved a one-year, $1.150 million contract with Detroit compliance firm, Ernst & Young. Ernst & Young will assist the city in assuring it meets the criteria for using the ARP funds. Guidelines have been detailed by the federal government but leave some room for interpretation.

In June 2022 the Mayor’s plan for how to use the money was presented to City Council. The Mayor’s plan calls for $16 million ARPA funds to be used for blight removal with an additional $8 million coming from Genesee County coffers.

According to Michael Freeman, CEO of Genesee County Land Bank, additional funds for blight elimination will be leveraged from philanthropists/foundations, state, federal and land bank contributions  amounting to $45 million towards blight elimination. Freeman spoke with_ EVM_ after the press conference by text message.

The Mayor’s ARPA spending plan includes, according to CFO Widigan: $400,000 for equipment used in blight elimination, $2.7 million for premium pay for Flint’s essential workers, $450,000 for Community Help Center “to ensure water and food distribution.”

Widigan added that Hasselbring and Brennan Community centers will receive, in total, $1 million with an additional $750,000 in funding from the C.S. Mott Foundation. Hasselbring Center will receive $450,000 and the Brennan Center will receive $300,000 from C.S. Mott Foundation grant. Also, the water line replacement along Miller Road, in Flint’s Eighth Ward, will use $2.2 million from ARPA funding, Widigan announced.

The ARPA spending plan also calls for a $300 water credit for each Flint water customer. This credit would total $8.6 million of the ARPA’s $94 million funds. The credit must be approved by city council.

The complete ARPA spending plan can be viewed at www.cityofflint.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Flint-MI-ARPA-Presentation.pdf

New council president supports $300 water credit

EVM spoke with new city council president Dennis Pfieffer (Ward 8) after the press conference about the $300 water credit proposed by the mayor and still needing council’s approval.

“I don’t know where the council stands on it, but I am for it,”  Pfeiffer said.  “One thing that many are talking about is the rising cost of many necessary items including natural gas. This money is pandemic-related, the inflation is pandemic -related, so this will help the community.” He added, “I wish it was more.”

Council vice-president Allie Herkenroder (Ward 7) had been chairing city council meetings since City Councilperson Eric Mays (Ward 1) was removed by his council collegues as president earlier in 2022. At last week’s council meeting Herkenroder announced she is taking on a new job and will no longer be able to chair council meetings. Herkenroder will remain on the council and will remain vice-president. After her announcement the council elected Pfieffer as council president.

“I hope to bring a level of leadership to move the city forward. I’m humbled to serve, Pfieffer said.

Jackson, MS and Benton Harbor join the ranks of municipal water being poisoned

In a poignant moment, Neeley suggested that Flint has prayers, guidance and support to both Jackson, MS and Benton Harbor, MI who have recently experienced water infrastructure catastrophes. He recalled the progress in Flint’s water crisis but noted that it’s not complete yet.

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September 16, 2022

City of Flint demos blighted structure targeted for illegal dumping, provides update on blight elimination plans

The City of Flint is implementing a long-term plan to eliminate blight that includes funding from a variety of sources, a partnership with the Genesee County Land Bank, and contracts with blight removal service providers.

Today, the City begins clean-up of a blighted site near Rankin and Bonbright Streets, which has been targeted by illegal dumping. This is funded by a new $1 million grant from the State of Michigan for blight demolition. The grant provides funds for equipment, personnel, contracts, and other blight elimination activities. The City of Flint just received these funds and is implementing the grant at blighted sites around the city.

Mayor Neeley is asking for residents’ help to catch illegal dumpers in the city. Crime Stoppers continues to offer rewards of $250 to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of anyone illegally dumping in the City of Flint. Mayor Neeley hopes that residents will keep an eye out for illegal dumping, creating a deterrent to anyone who would consider polluting Flint’s neighborhoods with their trash.

Another piece of the City’s blight plan involves funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The City of Flint has a strong partnership with the Genesee County Land Bank to use ARPA funding for demolition of blighted structures. The Land Bank has assembled a total of $43 million, including $16 million in City of Flint ARPA funds, which have been approved and allocated by City Council. This will fund demolition of 2,200 Land Bank properties.

“This demolition package represents the largest blight investment made to date in our city and county’s history,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “I’m happy that the planning and partnership we’ve cultivated between the City of Flint and the Genesee County Land Bank will help keep residents safe and improve quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

This demolition package is part of a larger framework called Beyond Blight 2022, which was developed through a partnership among the City of Flint, the Genesee County Land Bank Authority, and the Flint Police Foundation. The C.S. Mott Foundation awarded funding to the Genesee County Land Bank to develop this plan through its Focus on Flint initiative. This strategic plan lays out strategies for tackling blight on a large-scale throughout the City of Flint.

In addition to the $16 million for demolition of condemned properties, the City of Flint administration has created the following blight mitigation initiatives as part of the city’s ARPA plan, pending approval by City Council. This plan was presented to the Flint City Council on June 14, 2022:

  • City cleanup – $2,820,000: City clean-up projects would include weed and trash abatement; rodent abatement; cleaning vacant sites; purchasing equipment to make crews more efficient; expansion of illegal dumping surveillance cameras; planting alternative ground covering on vacant lots to reduce mowing costs; and hiring contractors to tackle backlogs caused by the pandemic.
  • Grants for alternative uses of vacant lots – $500,000: This project involves re-granting for sustainable uses of vacant lots, such as urban farming, flower gardens, and rain gardens. Vacant lots are prevalent in Flint’s most distressed neighborhoods. Creative reuse of these lots can improve food access, reduce energy costs, and increase property values.
  • Financial literacy training – $50,000: This program would help residents understand paths to home ownership and how to manage a home. Financial literacy training helps low- and moderate-income residents plan for home ownership and may reduce the racial wealth gap.
  • Home repair & improvement grants – $2,000,000: This program would provide funding to community organizations that will aid residents in the restoration and rehabilitation of their homes. This program would improve housing conditions, health outcomes and mental health while decreasing the migration of people out of Flint. This would help increase property values and reduce health hazards for residents of distressed neighborhoods.
  • Gap financing for residential and mixed-use projects – $3,400,000: Several proposed residential and mixed-use projects require gap financing to become a reality. This project would award gap financing grants on a competitive basis to proposals with the greatest potential to attract and retain residents. New residential and mixed-use projects will help Flint stabilize its population and grow its tax base while eliminating blight.
  • Foreclosure avoidance – $1,000,000: This project would provide assistance with tax and insurance liabilities, which are not covered by other foreclosure avoidance programs. This fills a gap in foreclosure prevention programs to protect the most vulnerable homeowners from displacement.
  • Tree hazard abatement – $100,000: This project would address the backlog of requests for removal of hazardous and downed trees from private property for owners who cannot afford commercial tree service. Funding will cover 40-150 properties, depending on size and complexity of jobs. This will improve living conditions and increase property values for residents in distressed neighborhoods.
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August 23, 2022

Machine-readable financial reports get a look in Michigan

Michigan is embarking on a pilot program that could lead to a seismic shift in local government financial reporting documents that proponents say would enhance transparency and help catch fiscal red flags earlier.

The fiscal 2023 budget signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer authorizes the state Department of Treasury to explore the feasibility of moving toward the use of machine-readable financial documents by local governments based on XBRL — extensible business Reporting Language —instead of their current PDF format.

Under the budget authorization for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, Treasury is setting up a XBRL Pilot Program Committee to review the feasibility of local governments using XBRL on their required financial reports and making recommendations on the development of an information technology strategy.

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August 19, 2022

Newsmaker for the week of July 17, 2022

The state of Michigan budgeted $220 million for Flint's pension fund saving the city from bankruptcy. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and Flint's Chief Financial Officer Robert Widigan join host Dawn Jones for this week's Newsmaker.

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July 22, 2022

State aid boosts Flint city government pension plan, but it's still only 60% funded

Flint officials are turning their attention to the city government’s outstanding unfunded pension liability after state lawmakers approved a partial bailout.

Presently, the city of Flint has four retirees to every current city employee paying into the pension plan.

The new state budget contains $170 million, which will bring Flint’s city pension plan funding level plan to 60%. The city will receive the money in August 2023.

Until now, the city’s pension fund had been only about one-third funded.

Flint officials faced allocating nearly $40 million in fiscal year 2024 for the pension plan. With the state pension plan funding, the city will need to allocate between $18 and $19 million for the fund.

The city budget for the next fiscal year calls for a pension payment of $32 million and a total general fund expenditure of about $65 million.

Flint officials admit the state funding is just the beginning to getting its pension budget under control.

City Chief Financial Officer Robert Widigan said paring down the remaining 40% that’s unfunded is the next step.

“There’s still discussions to be had with our partners in Lansing, community partners,” Widigan told reporters Wednesday, “But this gives us a stable ground to where we can actually have those conversations.”

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley is optimistic there will soon be a major economic development announcement that will increase tax revenues to pay into the pension fund.

“We’ll be announcing maybe in a couple of weeks about a major $300 million deal here in the city of Flint that will create 3,000, 4,000 jobs,” Neeley said, adding that an infusion of income tax revenues will give the city more money to work with.

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July 15, 2022

Governor signs $19.1 billion education budget in Flint

Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined Mayor Sheldon Neeley and other community leaders at Mott Community College to sign a record $19.1 billion education budget, a $2 billion increase. Flint and other Michigan cities and schools will see a $450 per student increase in funding from the previous year,bringing  the total per pupil spending in Michigan to $9,150.

“I worked in education in Flint for ten years working with kids identified as ‘at risk’ to ensure they reached graduation, and my funding came from the state. When that money disappears, so does the support mechanism for those kids,” said Mayor Neeley. “These dollars that we are talking about today re-fortifies our commitment to the education in the state of Michigan.”

The historic  budget also includes $1.92 billion for special education programs, $168 million for school safety initiatives and $250 million for school infrastructure improvements. Mayor Neeley went on to call the funding increase a “clear and present blessing.”

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July 8, 2022

Business Expansion in Flint to Create 24 Manufacturing Jobs, Generate $8 Million Capital Investment

The City of Flint is proud to announce a recent investment between the State of Michigan and Flint-based Island Plastics will generate 24 manufacturing jobs along with an $8 million investment in Flint. The company’s expansion, announced Thursday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is being supported by the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Island Plastics, LLC is a subsidiary of Flint-based ACI Plastics, Inc., is a  post-industrial plastics recycler. The company will recycle post-consumer low-density polyethylene (LDPE) material. ACI plans to invest into an existing facility in the city of Flint to construct a state-of-the-art system where it will recycle post-consumer LDPE material for resale to various industries including energy, automotive and consumer goods. The company anticipates processing 25 million pounds of waste per year through the reuse of this plastic.

“The City of Flint is excited to see this expansion take place. Flint is open for business, and we hope opportunities like this encourage other businesses to come to Flint and keep their operations here,” said Samantha Fountain, Flint Economic Development Director. The City of Flint has provided a dedicated concierge services package with an estimate value of $11,059 as the company establishes its presence and future investment in Flint and elsewhere in Michigan.

“This investment by Island Plastics will create 24 good-paying manufacturing jobs in Flint and prove our dedication to attracting and growing businesses that create opportunity and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices that ensure long-term economic growth,” said Governor Whitmer. Michigan was chosen over a site in Ohio for the project, which is supported by a $150,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

Thursday’s announcement builds on other recent Michigan Strategic Fund support for Flint-area projects, including a July 2021 announcement by Governor Whitmer that a new co-op urban grocery store will soon be coming to the north side of Flint with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Intended to provide much-needed, affordable, healthy food options to area residents, the project is expected to revitalize a long-vacant building and help address health issues in the documented “food desert” of North Flint.

Allegiant Airlines also announced in November the company would establish a new operational base at Flint Bishop International Airport, supported by a $200,000 Jobs Ready Michigan performance-based grant from the same fund. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $77 million and create 88 high-wage jobs as it brings new business and economic activity to the region.

“Our city is sending the message that Flint not only welcomes investment within the business and neighborhood communities, but will work to ensure its growth and continued success, thereby making it clear that we are dedicated to continued prosperity,” said Mayor Sheldon Neeley. A total of 424 new jobs and generate a total private investment of $23 million with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund are expected with similar announcements of investment in Burton by Flint-based Northgate and by DAG Technology, Inc. in Grand Blanc Township.

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July 7, 2022

Pension bailout will save Flint millions but not right away

FLINT, MI -- Flint officials are expecting millions in annual savings from a state-funded pension system bailout but the relief won’t come until 2023.

Mayor Sheldon Neeley, union leaders and state legislators announced details of the $220-million set-aside in the newly adopted state budget during a news conference on Wednesday, July 6.

The city initially announced it would receive $170 million from the state, but officials said Wednesday that the funding will actually amount to $220 million, bringing the funding level of Flint’s pension system funded to 60 percent, bringing it up to minimum standards set by the state.

Chief Financial Officer Robert Widigan said the cash infusion will reduce the city’s annual pension payment from $32 million in the current fiscal year to $18-19 million annually in future years.

“There’s still work to be done … We’re still going to have to tighten our belts (and) continue with these balanced budgets,” Widigan said Wednesday.

In the fiscal year that started July 1, Flint’s most significant expense is its retiree legacy costs, including pension expenses that have increased rapidly to reach $32 million this year.

Pension costs had been projected to rise to $40 million in the following fiscal year -- a funding level Flint officials have warned would have put them on the threshold of bankruptcy.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, Flint had $559 million in pension liabilities but plan assets of just $149 million, making it funded at less than 27 percent.

Neeley said his staff and the area’s legislative delegation worked for months to achieve the pension contribution included in the new state budget.

The mayor said during his time in office, he’s made it a priority “to make sure our retirees and our city workers have a level of security” in their jobs and their pensions.

He has blamed previous mayors and emergency financial managers for not having addressed the pension shortfalls in a sustainable way previously.

Flint is a member of the Municipal Employees Retirement System, or MERS, a statewide multiple-employer pension system.

Widigan said Wednesday that the average Flint pensioner receives about $29,000 annually.

Making those payments has been increasingly difficult as the number of retirees in the city has risen and its active employees and tax base have decreased, leaving one active employee to pay for the pension benefits of four retirees.

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July 6, 2022

Michigan budget pumps several billion into public pensions

Please see the attached article below.

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July 6, 2022

City of Flint set to receive $220 million to help pension plan

FLINT, Mich. – The City of Flint originally said it would receive $170 million dollars to help bolster its pension fund, Wednesday Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley announced the city will be receiving $220 million instead.

The money is coming from the State of Michigan and it said to be going directly to the city's pension plans. Michigan legislature finalized a $76 billion budget plan this week that Governor Whitmer is expected to sign.

The city says this news makes sure the city's pension will remain funded for generations to come.

There are some key factors about this funding. The first thing is that the city won't actually receive these funds until August of 2023 and while these funds are helping the city drastically, they do not completely take care of the city's pension plans.

Before these funds were announced, Mayor Neeley says the city's pension plans were only 26% funded through the state leaving the City of Flint to pay the remaining 74%.

With these funds, Flint now will only be paying 40% of the pension plans and what was originally thought to be $170 million has nearly doubled.

"What's coming out of Lansing, as previously reported was $170 million to go towards our pension system. It's actually $220 million," Robert Widigan, City of Flint's Chief Financial Officer said.

These funds are a result of Michigan's 2022-2023 fiscal year budget making it so all municipalities are funded to 60% in their pension plans, Flint included. State lawmakers say the idea is to give communities, like Flint, the opportunity to have better financial stability.

"The goal was to make sure retirees get their pensions and the hardworking folks and communities across the state are able to receive the basic services that municipal governments provides," John Cherry, Michigan State Representative said, "Communities throughout Genesee County will benefit. The city of Flint is the largest municipality that is going to benefit," he finished.

According to Mayor Neeley, the City of Flint currently has one working employee paying into the pension plan, for every four retirees they're paying. The Mayor says before these funds, the city was on track to bring in $56 million in revenue this year and pay out roughly $67 million with a great majority going towards pension plans. Something Mayor Neeley says was not manageable.

"Now because we have these additional dollars, we can alleviate those other obligated dollars to the pension system and then put it into circulation into the benefit of residents," Mayor Neeley said.

The City's Chief Financial Officer, Robert Widigan says with the $220 million promised from the state, the city is now looking at about a $19 million dollar pension pay out, instead of their original $40 million pay out.

City retiree's who were once fearful of what their pensions might look like, are now relieved to know that these funds are going to help.

Mayor Neeley says currently the city still does pension plans but employees are required to pay a higher percentage into them, along with other changes. As for retention, Widigan says they are required to check in with the state regularly to make sure they are keeping up with requirements.

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July 6, 2022

State aid boosts Flint city government pension plan, but it's still only 60% funded

Flint officials are turning their attention to the city government’s outstanding unfunded pension liability after state lawmakers approved a partial bailout.

Presently, the city of Flint has four retirees to every current city employee paying into the pension plan.

The new state budget contains $170 million, which will bring Flint’s city pension plan funding level plan to 60%. The city will receive the money in August 2023.

Until now, the city’s pension fund had been only about one-third funded.

Flint officials faced allocating nearly $40 million in fiscal year 2024 for the pension plan. With the state pension plan funding, the city will need to allocate between $18 and $19 million for the fund.

The city budget for the next fiscal year calls for a pension payment of $32 million and a total general fund expenditure of about $65 million.

Flint officials admit the state funding is just the beginning to getting its pension budget under control.

City Chief Financial Officer Robert Widigan said paring down the remaining 40% that’s unfunded is the next step.

“There’s still discussions to be had with our partners in Lansing, community partners,” Widigan told reporters Wednesday, “But this gives us a stable ground to where we can actually have those conversations.”

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley is optimistic there will soon be a major economic development announcement that will increase tax revenues to pay into the pension fund.

“We’ll be announcing maybe in a couple of weeks about a major $300 million deal here in the city of Flint that will create 3,000, 4,000 jobs,” Neeley said, adding that an infusion of income tax revenues will give the city more money to work with.

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July 1, 2022

Flint gets $170M pension fund bailout in state budget

FLINT, MI -- Flint’s pension system, an increasing drain on the city’s budget and a threat to its solvency, is getting a $170 million cash infusion from the state.

Mayor Sheldon Neeley said in a news conference on Friday, July 1, that the newly adopted state budget includes the funding that will help chip away at a $400 million liability in the pension system, bringing it closer to being funded at minimum levels set by the state.

As recently as May, Chief Financial Officer Robert Widigan had said Flint was facing insolvency without a substantial boost in revenue to help pay rising pension costs, which are projected to increase by 25 percent -- to $40 million annually in the 2024 fiscal year.

“This is going to help stabilize our structural deficit,” said Neeley, who said the city will receive more funding in the new state budget than at any time in Flint’s history.

The mayor said he and other local and state officials will discuss how that funding will be applied to lessen the city’s pension obligations in a roundtable meeting next week.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, Flint had $559 million in pension liabilities but plan assets of just $149 million, making it funded at less than 27%. The state’s minimum goal for pension systems is that they are funded at a rate of at least 60%, something Flint needs $220 million to achieve.

City officials have been working for months on a relief package from the state, and Neeley has blamed previous mayors and emergency financial managers for not having addressed the problem in a sustainable way.

As the number of retirees in the city has risen, its active employees and tax base have decreased, leaving one active employee to pay for the pension benefits of four retirees.

Flint is a member of the Municipal Employees Retirement System, or MERS, a statewide multiple-employer pension system.

In the fiscal year that started Friday, the city’s most significant expense is its retiree legacy costs, including pension expenses that have increased to $32 million. The costs had been projected to rise to $40 million in the following fiscal year.

In addition to the pension relief, the new $76 million state budget provides more than $10 million for more than a dozen community-based programs in the area, according to state Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint.

The funded area programs are:

  • $3 million for the Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative for the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. The money will provide equipment, personnel and training focused on reducing shootings and homicides.
  • $2.5 million to redevelop the former General Motors headquarters into an inpatient behavioral health facility.
  • $1.5 million for the Hamilton Community Health Network to increase access to community-oriented health care for the underserved in the greater Flint area.
  • $1 million to continue providing no-cost, full-day, year-long early education to Flint children from birth to age 5.
  • $500,000 for Berston Field House for youth and adult recreational, educational, and civic engagement opportunities.
  • $500,000 for the Ennis Center to support its work with abused or neglected children, foster care placement and guidance for juveniles.
  • $500,000 for the Flint Children’s Museum for building developments.
  • $500,000 for the Saint Mark Community Outreach Center to support suicide awareness and youth and community outreach programs.
  • $500,000 for the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village to develop a new facility that will offer year-round athletic programming to youth of all ages and abilities.
  • $250,00 for the Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education (IGNITE) for GED, skilled trade, and college-level courses for Genesee County inmates.
  • $250,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint for building and infrastructure improvements.
  • $250,000 for Crossover Outreach to establish a new facility for supporting residents in need of food, personal items, household items, clothes and cleaning supplies.
  • $150,000 to support the Martus-Luna Food Pantry.
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May 13, 2022

Flint needs $250 million in cash for rising pension costs to avoid ‘insolvency,’ CFO warns

lint, MI– Without a significant influx of cash– upwards of $200 million– to put towards its pension system, the city of Flint could face “insolvency.”

Chief Financial Officer Robert Widigan issued this warning during a budget hearing on May 12, 2022, where he gave a presentation with representatives from the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) about the city’s severely underfunded pension liabilities.

“Without a cash infusion from the state, I cannot sit here today and assure you that there will be assets on hand to pay for future pensions to current and future city of Flint retirees,” Widigan said.

This is not a new issue, Widigan said and named deindustrialization, reduced state funding, population decline, and emergency manager mismanagement as contributing factors in the city’s financial struggles.

Flint’s pension fund obligations, which were $21 million in 2018, are projected to be $32 million in 2023 and $40 million by 2024. Widigan said the city’s average general fund balance is around $55 million.

“So having a payment of nearly $40 million for pension costs alone is not sustainable,” Widigan said. “Even making an annual pension contribution of $32 million is a tough stretch for the city.”

As a result, the 2023-2024 forecasted budget for the city projects a $16 million deficit for the general fund, which Widigan said was “driven by the pension contributions.”

“This is not a deficit, unfortunately. That can be fixed by making minor cuts to expenses or small increases to revenues. Instead, this is a deficit that likely only a substantial cash infusion can fix,” he said.

Widigan said he met with the Michigan Department of Treasury on “multiple occasions” but was not provided with any real long-term solutions or assistance to the “seemingly impossible” problem.

Right now, the city’s pension fund is just under 27% funded.

Marne Daggett, the regional manager at MERS, said that the city’s total liability as of Dec. 31, 2020, was approximately $559 million. The city’s assets at that time were about $149 million, which is less than 27% of the liability.

Daggett said there weren’t many other municipalities as underfunded as Flint.

“Not very many … that are in the 20% funding. There’s a few, but not very many,” she said.

David Kausch, a representative from Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company, an independent actuary for MERS, called the city’s pension plan “very mature.”

“A vast majority of the liability, 90% of the liability in this plan, is attributable to the retirees and beneficiaries,” Kausch said. “In terms of people, what this means is for every active employee you have participating in the retirement system, there are four retirees and beneficiaries.”

On average, Kausch said those retirees are about 70 years old with an annual benefit of about $29,000. He said there are roughly 1700 retirees in that position, which adds up to a $50 million cost to the city in benefit payments.

Kausch said at the current rate, it will take 23 years for the city to get to a point where the pension plan is fully funded. But he offered a few payment options for the council to consider.

The city could become fully funded in 17 years with higher annual payments and hit 40% funded by 2029.

“It’s a higher contribution, above $40 million, but it’s more money in there sooner and it actually pays off the unfunded sooner,” Kausch said.

The other method, as Widigan mentioned, is a large cash infusion right now of about $250 million.

“If you put a large contribution in immediately … that would immediately bring the plan above 60% funded, and it would relieve pressure on the contribution,” Kausch said. After the large payment, he said that annual contributions would drop to around $15 to $20 million.

For some council members, the second option seemed to be the only option.

“I guess I have some calls to make. … There’s not much way out of this, I don’t see, without an infusion of cash from somewhere that the city doesn’t have,” said Flint City Councilwoman Judy Priestley.

Flint City Councilman Quincy Murphy said he thought the city needed help from the federal government to resolve the issue.

“I think we need our congressman to come in and work with them in Washington to create a stimulus package that can come and bailout not only the city of Flint, but other municipalities that’s dealing with these structural, legacy cost deficits,” Murphy said.

He expressed concerns about the city having to file for bankruptcy and potentially being dissolved as a city.

Widigan said he didn’t think that was an outcome anybody wanted.

“I can tell you that the legislators we’ve worked with are very eager to try to find a solution versus something like bankruptcy or dissolution,” Widigan said. “And I’m talking legislature on both sides of the aisle.”

Flint City Councilwoman Tonya Burns said whether it was with guilt trips or baking cakes, Widigan needed to do whatever he could to get money from the state.

“I don’t care. You need to come back with $250 million plus, because we need it,” Burns said. “Let’s make Flint whole.”

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