RTAB board hints at release in a month or two; urges LP officials to address infrastructure uncertainty
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – City Councilman Larry Kelsey asked the Receivership Transition Advisory Board at the May 16 meeting when the board members thought the state might end its oversight of the city.
He said at the previous meeting May was mentioned as a possibility, but nothing was mentioned at this month’s meeting.
“Last time I heard, if I am not mistaken, the last meeting the chair asked the representative of the treasury and they discussed that he would contact the appropriate people,” Kelsey said. “I thought May was mentioned as a probable ‘maybe-maybe not.’
“Obviously, this is your May meeting and I haven’t heard we are at the end, so I am assuming that’s not going to happen. My question is, when is it going to happen? What is the progressive date when this is going to be resolved?”
Kelsey asked for a timetable, and acknowledged that the city will be under state oversight for a year after RTAB oversight ends.
“It’s not like we are going to put the shoes on and run,” Kelsey said. “We’re getting kind of antsy, and we are wondering – there should be a time frame, whatever it is, or at least a date of when the state is going to review it.”
RTAB Board Member Kevin Bonds said it would have been a reasonable assumption that the recommendation was ready to move from the treasury to the governor’s office, but the decision is still with treasury.
“All indicators are that the city of Lincoln Park is doing a phenomenal job of reclaiming its financial stability and its planning,” Bonds said. “We don’t have any indicators as a board that this is not going to happen. The issue is just timing.”
Bonds said he would make another inquiry himself the next day.
“It has to go from treasury to a recommendation to the governor, and then the governor will issue the final decree, so to speak,” Bonds said.
He reminded city officials to take the infrastructure needs of the city seriously.
“You are not unlike any other city in the state,” he said. “The state overall has huge infrastructure needs.”
Bond also said that the state has many cities that are burdened with retiree legacy costs.
“As we move forward through the evaluation process coming through, and hopefully looking for a tentative release, keep your eye on the prize of stability,” Bonds said. “Make sure when the city manager is ready to do that capital improvement plan that input has been provided across the city government of what are those priorities and how they will be addressed.
“That is going to be the key of keeping your community stable. There still is a recovery period. Once we are released from this decree, it will take about a year before you will be formally released from any other external review.”
Bond urged city officials to continue the steps they have taken to regain stability, and to take a conservative, well-thought-out approach to budgeting and planning.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)