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Benton Harbor Mayor says city will soon no longer need emergency financial manager

By Ted Land
Published On: Oct 15 2013 09:23:31 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 15 2013 10:30:42 PM CDT

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower gave his State of the City Address Tuesday night. WSBT's Ted Land was there.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -

The Mayor of Benton Harbor says he thinks the city will soon no longer need a state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager.

Mayor James Hightower made the comment during a State of the City address, Tuesday evening.

Benton Harbor has been under state control since 2010 because of its critical financial state, but now Hightower says things are much better and he thinks the city can regain local control at the start of 2014.

“We are not on the verge of bankruptcy,” he told the audience, “but in fact we have turned the corner and are heading in the right direction.”

City leaders also used the event to applaud efforts to make the city safer.  Benton Harbor uses public safety officers who respond to both police and fire calls.

“We have greatly increased the number of responders that we have available, we have drastically reduced the number of fire related calls that our fire division has to respond to,” said Jeremy Connell, director of fire services.

But not everyone agrees with what was said on stage.  Commissioner Marcus Muhammad called it a “circus.”

“I didn't hear anything concerning generating revenue,” he said.

The event was almost like a pep rally for the city, with singers, dancers, even a poetry reading.

Hightower wants people to get excited about Benton Harbor's future, but some are still unsure of where the city is headed.