By Tom Travis
The Flint City Council passed a resolution, on a 8-0 vote Monday night to establish a Revenue Estimation Commission (REC). The REC is required by the city’s charter (Section 7-104). The REC’s responsibilities include, “reporting to the public, the Mayor and City Council on the anticipated revenue for the City of Flint. The reports are to detail each source of revenue along with the purpose and/or restrictions for use of each source of revenue.”
Councilperson Quincy Murphy (Ward 3) made the motion to establish an REC.
Murphy explained, “I bring this up because the city has $47 million and $94 million all together [referring to the $94 million federal American Rescue Plan stimulus funds]. It’s projected that the city will have a $17 million deficit…Also, we’re talking about a $3.9 million contract with Ernst & Young, “we’re trying to do all these things and it’s like putting the cart before the horse.”
Murphy read the section of the charter describing the REC. He then explained who would be on the REC: one person would be appointed by the city council, a second would be appointed by the Mayor and the third would be selected by the first two appointed by the council and the Mayor.
The charter further clarifies the responsibilities and duties of the REC:
- To present a budget preparation report by the first Monday in November of each year. This report will define the anticipated income for the next fiscal year budget.
- To present a five-year income projection report by the first Monday in November of each year. This report will define each of the five future year’s estimated income from all sources.
- To present a current year actual income report by the first Monday in February, May, August and November. This report will compare the current fiscal year actual income from each source of income to the estimated income with notations on trends that change the estimated income for the current year and future years.
Murphy, a former charter commissioner who helped develop the charter, explained, “I want to see this revenue estimation commission. I know how important it is.” Murphy pleaded with the council to put the commission in place saying, ‘I think we need to get this ball rolling.”
Murphy asserted, “We haven’t followed the charter completely. We have an order from the court to follow the charter. One of those orders is to put in place the revenue estimation committee. We owe it to this community to follow the charter. This Revenue Estimation Committee should be one of the first order of business that we should get in place. This council should do all things necessary to put things in place.”
The “order” Murphy referred to was a lawsuit brought by local Attorney Linda Pohly in May 2021.
The entire Linda Pohly settlement agreement can be viewed at the end of this article. The portion of the agreement that pertain to the REC can be found on page six.
The settlement agreement states that, “The city will establish and populate the Revenue Estimation Commission no later than 180 days after the entry of the stipulated order for participation in the preparation for FY 2022 to FY 2023 budget.”
In a phone interview with EVM Tuesday morning, Pohly said, “Mr. Mays believes the council has to pass a resolution to follow the law [the charter]. That’s a bunch of hooey. The Revenue Estimation Commission is a necessary part of the budgeting process.
She said the State of Michigan has one [an REC], and “cities all over Michigan have one.”
According to Pohly, her lawsuit was originally filed in April 2019 and the order was entered July 27, 2021 out of court in a meeting between Attorney Alec Gibbs (representing Pohly), City Attorney Angela Wheeler representing the City of Flint, City Administrator Clyde Edwards, City Councilperson Eric Mays, and Charter Compliance Enforcement Officer, retired Judge Archie Hayman. The 180-day deadline for the establishment of the REC based on these dates would be around the end of January 2022.
The order signed by Judge Kay Behm is a “stipulated order” meaning that the court entered an order based on the agreement of all parties and it has the same effect as an order entered after trial. The case was not dismissed. The city is required to implement the charter no later than September 2022.
Council President Mays (Ward 1) added, “I don’t agree with all the revisions the charter review committee made.” Mays proceeded to identify Allen Gilbert, chairman of the Ethics and Accountability Board (EAB), who was sitting on the front row of the council chamber.
Mays said he doesn’t disagree with the establishment of the EAB but explained, “it took away our investigative arm of the council. The council used to appoint the ombudsperson and the ombudsperson could do investigations with subpoenas in our honor of this council.”
Mays added, “I’m ready to vote for some for some things to be amended [to the charter]. Because no charter is always right.
Councilperson Judy Priestley (Ward 4) chimed in, speaking to Murphy, agreeing that the REC needs to be put in place. Priestley suggested that the council would need to consider taking applications from the public so that they can choose someone.
Councilperson Dennis Pfeiffer asked Attorney Kim what the term would be of the REC appointees. It could not be determined at the time what established term for the REC appointees.
The resolution to pass to establish a Revenue Estimation Commission was passed in a 8-0 vote with Councilperson Eva Worthing (Ward 9) being absent from the meeting.
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