FLINT, MI — City employees have been told they could be laid off because of a deadlock over the city’s budget and the potential for a local government shutdown.
Flint’s current budget expires on June 30, and the City Council has yet to adopt a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 despite a city charter requirement for it to do so no later than the first Monday in June.
On Monday, June 7, the council voted 4-4 on the $71-million budget proposed by Mayor Sheldon Neeley with one amendment to the city’s master fee schedule.
Two days later, members failed to find the six votes required to reconsider the measure.
“This unprecedented failure to pass a budget is putting hundreds of city of Flint employees’ livelihoods in jeopardy,” Neeley said in a statement issued by the city Friday, June 11. “Our team, their families, and our community deserve better than the ongoing petty politics and continuous dysfunction that is being portrayed by some City Council members.”
Members of the council who have voted against adoption of the budget have blamed the mayor for failing to provide them with information and for not sending them a resolution accepting the first $47 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government.
Although the budget doesn’t include any of those funds, which arrived several weeks ago, council members have prepared more than a dozen amendments to the proposed budget, including some that call for the use of some of those relief funds.
The budget proposed by Neeley to the council on March 1 is balanced for the coming fiscal year and does not include layoffs, but it forecasts a shrinking fund balance and a potential deficit of more than $17 million a year from now.
Council’s proposed amendments to that budget have been numerous and varied but include more than $3 million to address blight in the city; an additional $4.2 million for public safety projects, and $5,000 payments to essential city employees who worked during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We hope and pray that a budget is passed, but, at this point, the city must begin preparing for a potential shutdown in case a majority of the council continues to fail to uphold their oaths of office and to fail to do their jobs,” Neeley’s Friday statement says
Because of the requirements of several union contracts, the city’s Department of Human Resources on Friday sent notices to all employees, notifying them that a potential government shutdown would require mass layoffs.
According to a news release from the city, officials are “working to ensure that essential services such as public safety would continue to operate even during a shutdown.”
The City Council is expected to discuss the budget again at its meeting Monday, June 14.