Benton Harbor residents meet new Emergency Financial Manager - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Benton Harbor residents meet new Emergency Financial Manager

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There's a new man at the helm.

Last month we told you about Joe Harris's sudden resignation.

He was Benton Harbor's Emergency Financial Manager for three years and it was no secret the Mayor and Council didn't have a great working relationship with him.

Now, there's a new start.

Monday, residents met their new Emergency Financial Manager, Tony Saunders.

"It's my pleasure to welcome you to the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan," said Benton Harbor resident George Wood to the new EFM.

Saunders received a warm welcome from the public at the town hall meeting, just one week on the job.

Saunders briefed residents on the state of the city's finances.
He says Benton Harbor had just under $350,000 in the General Fund on January 31st.

He also laid out a plan for the future.
That includes spending freezes, another look at the millage renewal and if worse comes to worse,  an Emergency loan.

"I just don't feel comfortable asking for an emergency loan until I have a better understanding of where we are financially," says Saunders.

While residents are hopeful of Saunders's plans, they are still cautious, urging the Council and EFM to get along.

"My concern is, greatest concern, is for this Commissioner and this Manager to work together," says resident Willy Burton.

Another concern, communication from City Hall to the residents themselves, something Saunders promises will get better.

"There are no secrets. Everything will be completely open," says Saunders.

Residents say they're ready to let go of the past and look to a stronger future.

"It's hard to go forward looking in a rearview mirror," says Burton.

One of the ways Saunders says his office will be open with residents is that every month they'll get a report of the city's financial standings that'll show them the budget year-to-date and the cash the city has on hand.

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