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Flint City Council members sue City Mayor

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(The Center Square) — The formation of Flint’s American Rescue Plan Act Advisory Committee by the City of Flint and Flint Mayor Sheldon Neely has prompted a lawsuit from two members of the City Council and a small number of city residents.

At issue is how $15.6 million of ARPA money will be spent on community grants in the city.

“The City of Flint is focused on allocating ARPA funds to provide critical home repairs for Flint residents,” Neely’s office said in an email to The Center Square.

Council members Eric Mays and Tonya Burns filed the suit, alleging the mayor made appointments to the committee without consulting the council. Mays and Burns also claim the appointments and formation of the committee violated the Flint Charter, and further assert Neely committed previous charter violations without consulting the council.

The ARPA committee was comprised of 12 residents, which the lawsuit by Burns and Mays says denies other Flint residents a voice in the final decision.

All but two of the elected officials walked out of the City Council meeting on Wednesday, before the council had resolved how it would spend $5 million for home repair programs in the city.

“Residents have been waiting to get relief from these ARPA funds since they were deposited into our city coffers in 2021,” Burns told a WNEM-TV news reporter. “Some people didn’t stay to do the work,” Burns said.

Mays also offered televised comments.

“It doesn’t surprise me that four to five of my colleagues won’t stay to do the business,” Mays said. “They get up and leave. You got recalls going on, and I’m in favor of trying to fix this council and getting the work done.”

Flint’s City Council has garnered notoriety for the bare-fisted, contentious manner in which it conducts its meetings. Earlier this month, five recall petitions were filed for five council members, which is two-thirds of the total members. One of those five members, Allie Herkenroder, has since resigned to accept a position as Michigan’s Digital Equity Director.

“Flint families have been asking for help with critical home repairs, and today we have a message of hope that help is on the way,” Neeley said in a statement. “If the Flint City Council approves these allocations, the administration is prepared to move swiftly to implement contracts with service providers and make these critical resources available for Flint residents.

“These home repair programs will improve quality of life for the most vulnerable members of our community by making Flint homes safe places where families can thrive.”

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