Snyder appoints emergency manager for Lincoln Park

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — The city’s new reality of life under a state-appointed emergency manager was confirmed Thursday. Gov. Rick Snyder appointed finance consultant Brad Coulter to oversee the city’s recovery from financial crisis.

Mayor Thomas Karnes said he’d been waiting for Thursday’s announcement ever since the city rejected a consent agreement in May.

“I’ve been expecting it,” Karnes said. “I expected it last week.”

Coulter will begin meeting this week with city officials to review the terms of his appointment and strategy for moving forward. Coulter is an independent contractor who had worked with Bloomfield Hills-based O’Keefe & Associates.

Karnes said city officials had continued taking care of business including finalizing the 2014-15 budget while awaiting the appointment.

The arrival of a state-appointed manager has been expected since a proposed consent agreement was rejected, under which city financial decisions would have required state approval. That agreement was one of a select few options left for the financially-distressed city, which will now fall under the authority of an emergency manager for up to five years.

Karnes said city officials have done what they could in the meantime. Last month council approved a balanced budget for the fiscal year that began last week. An expected deficit of more than $100,000 was eliminated by, among other strategies, concessions reached first with unions representing public safety command staff and then, last week, patrol officers.

“We’ve taken care of some business,” Karnes said. “All labor agreements have been reached, which got us the necessary savings for the budget year. There’s been a lot accomplished to improve things, but we need more people.”

New hires, however, are not something the city can pursue until more is known from Coulter.

“It may be that we get some help financially from the state to get through the rough spots,” Karnes said. “I just want to put the worst behind us and get on with making this a better place to live.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)