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Benton Harbor’s emergency manager will try again to borrow more money from Michigan

Main Street in Benton Harbor after the march.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Main Street in Benton Harbor after the march.

Benton Harbor’s emergency manager says he’ll ask the state for a roughly $2 million loan, again. But he’s got some more convincing to do.

Benton Harbor has been under state control for more than three years. It's cut its budget deficit by a third.

With the loan, Emergency Manager Tony Saunders says the city’s deficit would be wiped out.  That would be the first step to ending Benton Harbor’s financial emergency. That’s would be the first step to proving Benton Harbor isn’t in a financial emergency anymore.

Without it, Saunders says it would take about three years to close the budget gap.

In November, a majority of elected city leaders voted against his plan to borrow more money from the state. They say the city needs to find more revenue, not more loans. But voters rejected an income tax proposal last November. 

Saunders plans to ask city commissioners again for their approval on Monday. If commissioners reject the plan, they’ll have up to 7 days to submit their own plan to close the budget deficit under the state’s emergency manager law.

It’s not clear when a state panel would make a decision on Saunders’ request. They did not act on his first request in November, mainly because he wanted to shorter the length of time the city would get to repay the loan. 

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.