Plans are already being put into place on how the City of Benton Harbor will greet the new emergency financial manager. Starting in February the state appointed a new man, Tony Saunders, to take Joseph Harris’ place.
Harris has been managing the city's finances since 2010 when he was appointed by Governor Granholm. Benton Harbor had a nearly four million dollar deficit. Tony Saunders had been working with Highland Park, outside of Detroit.
A planning session was called by Benton Harbor's Mayor, James Hightower. Seven of the nine commissioners were in attendance.
The idea behind the meeting was to brainstorm ideas on what they'd like to see the new emergency financial manager prioritize. Commissioners came up with a long list of ideas but there was also a heated exchanged at one point about how to go about fixing the city.
Some of the highlights include focusing on economic development, city income tax and better communication between the EFM and city commissioners.
Mayor Hightower says, “There has to be some capacity building with the city. If we are going to take the reins when the EFM exits, I think the state listened to what we had to say with those concerns and I understand this individual is that type of person.”
Just before the end of the year, Harris did decide to put a special tax assessment in place. It's for ten mills for two years.