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Emergency Loan Board Appoints Tony Saunders II Successor-Emergency Financial Manager in Benton Harbor

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January 11, 2013

Municipal Management Advisor to Begin Next Phase Restoring City to Fiscal Health

The Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board (ELB) today voted to replace Joe Harris as Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) for the City of Benton Harbor, effective February 1, 2013. The ELB has appointed Tony Saunders II as Successor-Emergency Financial Manager for the city. Saunders has spent the last nine months working with the City of Highland Park in an advisory role on behalf of the Department of Treasury.

Deputy Treasurer Roger Fraser, State Treasurer Andy Dillon's designee on the ELB, thanked Harris for his work in Benton Harbor.

"Mr. Harris made many difficult but necessary decisions and implemented a number of measures to address the financial crisis in Benton Harbor. We thank him for his work," said Deputy Treasurer Fraser. "However, while much has been done in an effort to return fiscal stability to Benton Harbor, the city remains in a financial emergency and this is an appropriate time to transition in a new direction for the city. We expect Tony Saunders will work collaboratively with city officials, residents, and others to move the city closer to a return to local control."

Saunders has most recently provided strategic and financial planning services to the City of Highland Park. Through his involvement, Highland Park has converted a projected $1.3 million General Fund (GF) operating deficit into a GF surplus of approximately $850,000 through spending reductions, departmental restructurings, and proper budget monitoring.

Saunders currently serves as a partner with WYLD Marketing Group, which provides integrated marketing strategies, solutions, and support. Prior to that, he worked as Chief of Staff for Detroit City Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins and Senior Advisor for Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh. Saunders is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

During Friday's ELB meeting, the board also approved an increase in Flint Emergency Financial Manager Ed Kurtz's monthly expense allowance from $1,000 to $3,333 per month. Kurtz annual salary as emergency financial manager remains at zero.

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