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Benton Township alleges Benton Harbor emergency manager defaulted on debt

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

When Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joe Harris took over the City of Benton Harbor two years ago, the city owed money to a bunch of different agencies; the library, the public schools, and the IRS, for example. Harris has made huge progress in paying off that old debt.

In December 2010 Harris agreed to pay Benton Township $22,856 a month to settle outstanding debt totaling $785,965 from before he was appointed. But Benton Township officials say only one of those payments have been made since November 2011.

Harris declined to comment on the case. However he told a local news paper he was unaware the payments we’re made and called it "unfortunate" the township filed the lawsuit before contacting him.

But township officials included six different letters to the city requesting payment in the lawsuit they filed. The township is asking a judge to order the city to pay it $537,223 immediately.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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