Highland Park may need new emergency manager

State says Highland Park is not meeting retiree pension obligations, has problems collecting on water bills

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. - The state's Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board finds that the city of Highland Park is under probable financial stress and is asking that a state review team come in and determine just how bad it is.

Highland Park has been under local control for the past four years. From 2001-2009 the city was controlled by emergency managers, first appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

So, what's the problem now? A preliminary look at the city shows it has problems meeting its retiree pension obligations and even bigger water bill problems. The state believes the city hasn't collected on nearly 90 percent of its water bills.

Mayor DeAndre Windom got the word Monday that a review team is once again being requested to come into the city and look at the books.

"Today we went up and we had a meeting at the state and it was determined we have probable financial stress," he told the City Council at a meeting.

Windom says there are steps the city is going to take immediately to try and stave off more state intervention including getting its loans restructured.

Highland Park isn't alone. The state is reviewing whether it will need to intervene in Royal Oak Township, too.

The Loan Board will meet Wednesday to determine whether further state review will be required in Royal Oak Township.

Currently there are emergency managers in Allen Park, Hamtramck and Detroit. Emergency managers are transitioning out of Pontiac and Ecorse and returning those cities to local control.

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