Buchanan commissioners to discuss suspension of city manager

Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 6:23 PM EST
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BUCHANAN, Mich. (WNDU) - Residents of Buchanan are gathering at a city commissioner meeting in hopes of keeping their current city manager, Ben Eldridge.

“When you have poverty and have people who are elderly – we have a high elderly population, you don’t overspend,” said Carla Jackson Johnson, Buchanan precinct one delegate.

The city of Buchanan’s slogan is “Life is better here,” although some would say the opposite. Since 2020, the city has turned over four city managers, three clerks, two bookkeepers, and three treasurers, which has caused great expense and instability.

“Our city has a real problem with following the chain of command and a charter. Ben was someone I really loved working with. I finally had the feeling like, you know, we found the right person,” said Monroe Lemay, an activist.

Many residents were shocked to hear that a week ago, Eldridge was suspended.

“In the four months he was here, he asked people to punch in and punch out, clock in and clock out, because people weren’t doing it; um, many got upset about that and said, ‘Well, you should just take our word for it. But in order to cut costs, how do you know if you know what the overtime was if you don’t make someone accountable?’” Lemay said. “Everybody that has moved here has invested money and has invested their time, their passion into the community, and that’s why we’re trying not to take over but make people accountable.”

Johnson has five generations that have lived in Buchanan, and she says she has never seen the community so divided.

“When I was growing up, there was a great deal of cooperation here, of unity and peace, and I never saw anything like I have now,” Johnson told 16 News Now.

16 News Now requested a statement from the city as to why Eldridge was suspended and has yet to hear back from officials.