Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Michigan’s Undemocratic Emergency Managers Paid Six Figures At Local Taxpayers’ Expense

By Alex Seitz-Wald/Think Progress

Last year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law a drastic expansion of the state’s emergency manager law, which imposes what critics have dubbed “financial martial law” on local governments the state deems to be mismanaging finances. The emergency managers, who are appointed without input from local communities, have the power to effectively depose elected officials, break collective bargaining agreements, and unilaterally dictate decisions about city operations, finances, infrastructure, and public safety.
Today, the Flint Journal points out that the managers receive six-figure salaries, set by the state and paid for by the local communities, which are all cash-strapped (or else they wouldn’t be subject to emergency managers in the first place). In Flint, in fact, the manager earns more than the mayor earns:
By law, the pay of Michigan’s five emergency managers — ranging from $132,000 to $250,000 — is set by the state, but the money actually is paid by the local communities they’re in charge of. [...]
Mayor Dayne Walling’s was Flint’s highest-paid elected official, receiving $91,800 before [Flint emergency manager Michael] Brown eliminated his pay and benefits and those of city council members.
Brown on Tuesday partially restored Walling’s pay to $55,000 and council members each will receive $7,000 a year.
The Journal points out that law has dictated that local communities pay the salaries of emergency managers since 1990, but Snyder’s expansion of the law means that many more communities have become subject to it than ever before. Activists are working to repeal the law via referendum of through a court ruling.
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