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Mayor gives annual message about city

The Flint City Council heard Mayor Dayne Walling's State of the City Address March 12. It also heard from Emergency Financial Manager Mike Brown and Plante and Moran, the city's auditors.

The mayor said it was a pivotal time for the city.

"We're facing some tough choices," Walling said, referring to the $13 million cash deficit and public safety issues. But he also pointed out some positive factors.

Michigan State University's proposed medical school in Flint and the additional of the third shift at GM's Flint assembly plant are pointing to an economic comeback, said Walling. He said these positive things and the recent economic and employment growth would translate into a stronger tax base for the city.

"I believe a united force from our community can tackle our problems. Our faith and business leaders are working for the best interest for our community," Walling said.

But he warned that too many people are walking away from their homes and schools and walking into drugs and gangs.

"A community divided will fall," Walling warned.

He advocated the Golden Rule — acting right and doing the right thing.

"We have 50 new Blue Badge volunteers, but we need more — one active volunteer for each police officer," Walling said. "We need your time and commitment."

Walling said the public deserves to have input on the state's emergency manager law.

Public Act 4 deserves a vote, he said. After signatures are verified he hopes many people will vote.

He said the city's priorities for 2012 should include redeveloping brownfield properties, diversifying the local economy and producing a master plan for the city's future.

"We have the potential to flourish. We need to build trust and teamwork to achieve it," Walling concluded.

Brown also talked at the meeting.

He told the council that the 68th District Court is planning to send some people serving time to do public service in the city. The Genesee County Land Bank will train those people and use them in its blight cleanup projects.

Brown asked the city council to help get block clubs and neighborhood associations to volunteer for cleanups. He asked those interested in volunteering to call Crystal Carter at (810) 776-7146 ext. 2079.

Brown commented on the recent audit saying there is a critical deficient and that the city cannot continue to overspend to cover deficits from 2011 and 2012. His 2013 budget will be ready for a public hearing in April.

He warned of cuts to the 700 city employee force and said talks with unions on more flexible working arrangements and health care will begin soon.

City auditors Plante and Moran gave council the results of the June 30, 2011 audit highlighting weaknesses in the city's accrual adjustments and account reconciliation procedures.

Auditors said that a deficit bond to cover the shortfalls is being considered by the city.

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