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After weeks of debate, Flint council approves budget originally proposed in March

The "Flint Sprint" will tackle 20 different projects in the city over the next 60 days.
Wikimedia user Flintmichigan

The Flint city council adopted a new budget late Monday night, less than two hours before the midnight deadline imposed in the city’s charter.

And despite months of debate, the final budget was the same one proposed by Mayor Sheldon Neeley in March. The vote for the original budget proposal came after council members voted down a version that had 10 amendments.

Council member Tonya Burns said she couldn’t vote for the amendments.

“We’re not showing where we’re taking from, we’re not balancing,” Burns said. “It’s just not making sense.”

The adopted budget calls for spending nearly $65 million in the city’s general fund. That’s about $7 million less than in the current fiscal year, because of declining revenues. The city expects more budget shortfalls in the coming years, but the city is also expecting an influx in federal cash thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act.

Monday night, some members of city council wanted to dip into those expected funds to expand the budget for the police department. But other members wanted to wait until the mayor’s office proposes a more comprehensive plan for how to spend the $94.7 million in expected ARPA funds.

“What, I’m going to wait for tomorrow?” asked council member Eric Mays, who proposed a number of amendments that would have used ARPA funds in the annual budget "What, I’m going to wait for somebody to tell me — that’s elected just like me — when and how to move? I control the purse strings. We control the purse strings.”

Mays argued that residents have been calling on city leaders to increase spending on police in the city, as the number of shootings has gone up. Mays says cleaning up blight is also a top concern.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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