Emergency Loan Board Names Financial Manager For the City of Benton Harbor

Contact: Terry Stanton, (517) 335-2167

The Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board (ELB) today, named Joseph L. Harris Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) for the City of Benton Harbor, effective immediately. Harris, a Certified Public Accountant, has ten years of high-level, local government management experience and has been an Adjunct Accounting Professor at three Michigan universities, currently teaching governmental accounting at Wayne State University.

The ELB appointment follows Governor Jennifer M. Granholm's confirmation that a financial emergency currently exists in the City of Benton Harbor, pursuant to the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act (PA 72 of 1990). The governor reached that conclusion in February, based on a recommendation by a Financial Review Team, appointed to review Benton Harbor's finances.

A preliminary review of the city's finances began in August, 2009 following a written request from then Benton Harbor City Manager Richard Marsh. The preliminary review found that a serious financial problem existed in the city resulting from several issues, including significant general fund operating deficits, failure to timely file annual financial audit reports, and failure to distribute property taxes in a timely manner.

A seven-member Financial Review Team was appointed by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm on November 30, 2009. The Financial Review Team, which included financial management experts from the public and private sectors, found that a financial emergency existed in Benton Harbor, because no satisfactory plan was in place to address the city's financial problems. The governor confirmed the Review Team's findings in February and directed that an Emergency Financial Manager be appointed.

For more information on the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, including an explanation of the PA 72 process, visit Treasury's Web site at www.michigan.gov/treasury and select the Local Government Services button.