April 4, 2018 / 10:57 PM / 7 months ago

Michigan frees city of Flint from state oversight

FILE PHOTO: The Flint Water Plant tower is seen in Flint, Michigan, U.S. on February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) - The city of Flint regained full control of its finances on Wednesday after Michigan announced the end of nearly seven years of state oversight that was marked by a drinking-water crisis that drew national attention.

Governor Rick Snyder said city officials worked hard to reverse the financial emergency that led to state-appointed emergency managers from November 2011 to April 2015, when Flint’s oversight moved to a receivership transition advisory board.

Emergency management proved to be controversial for the city of nearly 97,400.

In a move to save money, Flint’s emergency manager in 2014 changed the city’s water source, which caused lead to leach from pipes. The water crisis prompted dozens of lawsuits and criminal charges against former government officials.

Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri said on Wednesday he plans to sign a resolution releasing the city from all orders that had been issued by emergency managers so that Flint has “a fresh start without any lingering restrictions.”

Republican Governor Snyder said in a statement: “With continuing cooperation between the city and state, Flint has an opportunity take advantage of the momentum being felt around the city in terms of economic development, which can lead to stronger budgets and improved services for residents.”

Flint’s release leaves Detroit as the only Michigan city still under state oversight.

With Detroit ending three straight fiscal years with balanced budgets, Mayor Mike Duggan has said the city’s financial review commission should soon be able to go dormant. The state commission was created as part of Detroit’s court-approved plan to exit in 2014 what was then the biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy.

Four school districts continue to have some form of state supervision, according to the Michigan Treasury Department website.

Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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