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Flint’s restoration efforts remain underwater following budget crisis

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(The Center Square) – The city of Flint, Michigan is in legal trouble again, this time over destroyed front yards.

The state filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson earlier this week, asking to finish restoring lawns affected by city service line excavations. Some yards haven’t been repaired in more than three years.

Since 2016, the city has been replacing water-damaged lead and galvanized steel pipes. While nearly 30,000 pipelines have been replaced, the city still has not repaired the sidewalks and lawns destroyed by excavations.

“After discussions with the city regarding the near exhaustion of funds available for use to perform the restoration work, the state has agreed to assist the city in those efforts by managing and paying for the work required to complete the restorations required under the settlement agreement,” the motion reads.

While it will cost about $4.6 million to restore all lawns and sidewalks, the city only has an estimated $1 million left of its original $97 million budget allocated by the state.

In March, Lawson found the city to be in civil contempt for repeatedly violating program milestones. While the state court filing says the city has completed its obligations for service line work, it says the city still needs to repair all damaged yards.

Flint was originally required to restore all lawns by Nov. 30 2020, but that was delayed by low funding and the pandemic. Lawson sent a court order to negotiate a new deadline, but no agreement was reached.

“Every Flint resident with a broken sidewalk or driveway from the city’s pipe replacement program must finally get their properties restored, as this case guarantees them,” said Sarah Tallman, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Michigan’s commitment to finish the job in Flint is a hopeful development, particularly given the city’s years-long failure to deliver on its promises.”

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