Does Pontiac EFM prove such management works?

Pontiac EFM Lou Schimmel says he knows his work has helped city get on right track

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

PONTIAC, Mich. -

Detroit's Rev. David Bullock says it's unequivocal: "Emergency management has not worked."

Read more: Community outpours opposition to emergency manager in Detroit

Lou Schimmel, Pontiac's own emergency manager, vehemently disagrees. Schimmel is one of the state of Michigan's most experienced financial managers. He first managed in Ecorse, before governor's appointed such EFMs, and then in Hamtramck and now in Pontiac.

"The Rev. David Bullock is 100 percent wrong," Schimmel said.

More: Headlines from Pontiac, Mich.

The biggest worry, he says, is when the politicians get a solvent city back.

"It went back down the drain, right. In both cases," he said.

Pontiac had 1,000 employees when the emergency hit the city four years ago. Now, the city has just 50. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office took over police patrols and Waterford now contracts firefighting to Pontiac. The outsourced services cost less than 1/2 of what the city was spending and offer better service.

Related: Pontiac gets financial upgrade, stable outlook for future

"We're spending $20 million less and providing better services than the city has ever had. So don't tell me it doesn't work," said Schimmel.

What about Pontiac residents?

Inside the Mill Street Grille, longtime residents and Pontiac business people say they're glad to have Schimmel.

"The financial manager, I think he did his job," said Mill Street Grille chef and manager Brian Coleman. "He went in there and cleaned out the people that were taking money that needed to be used for Pontiac."

Lifelong resident and nurse Terry Jenkins says the emergency financial manager did work.

"And now that we are stabilized, once they become stabilized and they can see the stabilization, then it might make them think differently. Sometimes you just need that change," she said.

Schimmel is getting ready to pack up his office and leave Pontiac in the next 60 to 90 days. He is required to leave behind a two-year budget that the City Council is required to follow under the new state law.

Schimmel says he is leaving the council a present: a five-year balanced budget.

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