Monday, June 26, was the deadline set by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the Flint, Mich., City Council to either approve a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, provide an alternative long-term water solution or face legal action, and after a night of screaming matches between the public, council members and even Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, the council voted to extend the city’s contract with GLWA until September.
The council postponed any long-term contract talks and voted 7-0 to approve a short-term extension of the current contract until Sept. 30, according to MLive-Flint Journal.
Citizens and activists showed up dressed in black and cheered, applauded and booed the council as its members debated what to do about the city’s water supply. Mayor Weaver took up the front row with members of her administration, according to the report. Weaver and her administration have publicly butted heads with the council and insisted that it approve the 30-year contract with GLWA immediately.
MLive-Flint Journal reports that on Friday, the council voted to postpone the vote on the 30-year contract for two weeks as three council members suggested alternative options that could be submitted to the state by the end of the night to avoid penalties.
“My position is we’ve had two months to hold meetings and subpoena the public,” 1st Ward Councilman Eric Mays said. “Now it’s the day, it’s in the consent agreement. We’re at this deadline day and I’ve done my due diligence.”
“The rationale for the alternative proposal is how the citizens of Flint have been injured by countless bad decisions by the state government,” Councilman Herbert Winfrey of the 6th Ward said. “It seems unfair that the state would impose deadlines on a city in an emergency situation induced by the state.”
Councilwoman Monica Galloway of the 7th Ward suggested that the city continue receiving water on a month-to-month contract, but Councilwoman Kate Fields of the 4th Ward said it was “premature” and “shortsighted” to write an alternative plan before the end of the night because the council did not have all the facts. She accused Weaver of “trying to shove the GLWA down our throats.”
Weaver had her say as well, taking the mic to talk about no one speaking up for the people of Flint.
“Councilwoman Galloway, you made a point when you said our backs were against the wall, but our backs were against the wall from the council that was in place when the former mayor asked for an emergency manager and nobody spoke up for us,” Weaver said. “They sold our pipe, they took away our revenue source, they went to the KWA for 30 years and $7 million a year, and nobody said one word. ... We’ve been asking for an alternative. We gave you 10 to 12 different options and said, ‘If you have something better, give it to us.’ We didn’t get it. We need it now.
“Our backs are against the wall because it is a public health issue,” the mayor continued. “So, what happens with the long-term plan—it eliminates the projected $10 million deficit in the water fund that we’re going to have in June of ’19. We save $7 million a year in bond repayment to the KWA. The long-term deal lowers the wholesale water rates, so we save between $2 and $2.3 million over the fiscal year, and by not doing the water plant, since we didn’t get the money for what we asked for, we invested in the infrastructure and saved $1 to $2 million annually. This contract needs to be approved, and it needs to be approved tonight.”
Read more at MLive-Flint Journal.