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The Flint Fiscal Playbook: An Assessment of the Emergency Manager Years (2011-2015)

July 2015

Mary Doidge, Eric Scorsone, Traci Taylor, Josh Sapotichne, Erika Rosebrook, Danielle Kaminski


The authors assess the actions taken by the State appointed Emergency Managers in the City of Flint, Michigan. Of particular note, the authors look at the external constraints faced by the City of Flint, for example, rising unemployment, industry relocation, demographic shifts (massive population loss), as well as housing & economic trends. After highlighting these trends, the authors systematically observed the actions taken by the Emergency Manager. These actions include wage & salary freezes, reduction in non-essential personnel, restricting of pension and health care obligations, as well as increases in water and sewage fees.

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Policy Implications

In assessing the actions taken by Emergency Managers in Flint, what becomes immediately apparent is the systematic approach to reducing long term costs, albeit with mixed results. This appears to be in detriment to attracting talent to the city in an attempt to reverse the pattern of mismanagement. State appointed emergency manager’s focus their attention on budgetary issues, often ignoring other critical components of the city. Of particular interest is the attention paid by the authors to the external constraints facing the City of Flint, constraints, such as economic development, that an Emergency Manager does not attempt to fix.

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