Benton Harbor's Harris holds meeting on city's finances

By: Brandon Lewis, Nick McGurk Email
By: Brandon Lewis, Nick McGurk Email

Benton Harbor's Emergency Financial Manager met with residents on Thursday night to update them on the city's financial situation – and not everybody left happy.

In the meeting, Harris laid out his 2-year plan for the city to achieve financial solvency.

EFM Joseph Harris told residents that he's slowly getting to work on things around the city.

Water rates will be going up to help pay expenses, but Harris said he will also implement an Adopt a Street program as an inexpensive way to clean up trash.

He wants to spruce things up in time for the 2012 PGA Tour.

Harris also said he will release a monthly newsletter and hold monthly meetings to keep residents up to date.

The plan is a 23-page document – essentially, a blueprint for the future.

"I don't see how it's gonna be done,” said Reverend Edward Pinkney, who is skeptical of the plan and was at Thursday’s meeting.

One complaint Pinkney has is about the plan Joseph Harris detailed to hire a Pennsylvania-based company to handle the city's water utility.

"It's gonna double the cost of water here in the city of Benton Harbor, and then the people, they're gonna hire their own people, not the people of Benton Harbor,” said Pinkney.

City commissioner Brian Joseph supports Harris and he says the city's water utility is a mess that needs fixing.

“We have 40 percent leakage of water that we're not billing for, we also have two months behind in billing -- that accounts for about a half million dollars," said Joseph.

The plan – which covers everything from government administration and public safety to neighborhood development – is 23 pages long.

"We've got to get our finances in order, so people can begin to believe Benton Harbor is on a comeback,” said Joseph.

To see Harris's plan for the city's finances, click here.

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