ELBERTA — Elberta’s village council failed to hatch a plan to reduce an out-sized $560,000 deficit, and now officials anxiously await word from the state Treasurer on the next step.
Village President Reggie Manville said the tiny Benzie County community could soon join the ranks of communities like Detroit, Benton Harbor and Flint, where the state installed emergency managers. He joined the council’s unanimous vote Thursday to delay a decision on a plan, but said he was unhappy with his colleagues’ lack of urgency.
“I don’t think we took it serious enough,” he said.
The Lake Michigan shoreline community has run a general fund deficit for close to a decade after a proposed brownfield redevelopment never materialized and officials drew on the village’s sewer fund in an effort to offset the cost of running village operations.
Manville said the state finally imposed a Friday deadline for Elberta to submit a five-year deficit reduction plan, but council members questioned whether that deadline gave them enough time and why it wasn’t presented in writing.
Cost-cutting and revenue-generating matters discussed at a village council meeting last week included reducing employee hours and benefits, selling assets and requesting a millage to fund village operations. But Manville said the council’s next meeting barely moved past the contentious matter of how to deal with the village’s employees.
Village officials on Friday passed along word to the state Treasurer that they failed to come up with a plan.
“I don’t know if they’ll jump on this today or wait two weeks. I don’t have a clue,” said village Treasurer Laura Manville.
Reggie Manville said the village may have missed its chance to have its say on “drastic cuts” in personnel and services that await.
“I would like to convey to the village that the unbalanced deficit has been on books for 16 or 17 years,” he said. “And basically it’s come to a point where we have to do something about it.”