Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Financial manager doing good job for city -

Financial manager doing good job for city -

Financial manager doing good job for city

It has been just over one year since Fred Leeb was appointed Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) for Pontiac. As chair of the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board, which appoints and oversees EFMs in communities under financial emergency, I want to provide the citizens of Pontiac with an update on what has been done to move their city forward and offer some perspective on what lies ahead.

Leeb has accomplished much in his first year as EFM. He has made many difficult decisions and Pontiac is in better financial shape today than it was one year ago.

Although the financial emergency that has plagued the city for years has not been eliminated,

Leeb has Pontiac on the right path to return the city to financial health. In fact, current estimates indicate the city will show a modest budget surplus when this budget year ends June 30. The surplus will help further trim the city’s structural deficit, which has been reduced from more than $7 million to approximately $5.6 million.

Among Leeb’s accomplishments are:

  • Successful negotiations with the Pontiac firefighters union, saving $3 million annually;
  • Settlement with the North Oakland Medical Centers. Received payment of $2.25 million;
  • Elimination of nonessential administrative personnel, saving $2.2 million in fiscal year 2010;
  • Furlough days implemented in October 2009, saving approximately $645,000 in fiscal year 2010;
  • Received approval for and issued bonds to improve wastewater and drinking water facilities. Saved $7.7 million; Obtained approval for approximately $15.4 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program II funding.
  • Plante & Moran now operating as full-time CFO/Controller; Finance Director position eliminated without increase in cost, saving $100,000-plus a year; and
  • Sale of the Silverdome, saving more than $1.5 million spent annually on maintenance.

The Silverdome will soon return to life as a viable entertainment venue, and will again contribute to the city’s tax base rather than be a drain on resources.

These are just a few examples. A more extensive list of accomplishments is posted on the City of Pontiac website at I encourage anyone who is interested to visit the site.

Leeb, working with the mayor and city council, is also in the process of updating the city’s written Financial Plan and developing a budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1. These two documents will provide an important and necessary roadmap for the city’s financial future.

To provide residents and others with an easy way to offer their respective thoughts and suggestions on the budget and financial plan, Leeb has placed a suggestion box on the city’s web page ( Those who do not have Internet and/or e-mail access can send their suggestions to Fred Leeb, at Pontiac City Hall.

As you can well imagine, Leeb will continue to be very busy over the next several weeks. I encourage citizens and elected officials alike to remain involved and to exhibit patience with the process. Pontiac’s financial emergency did not develop overnight. Likewise, serious and lasting remedies will also take time. Everyone shares the common goal of returning Pontiac to solid financial footing as quickly as possible. With the continued support of local leaders and Pontiac residents, that goal can and will be achieved.

Robert J. Kleine is Michigan State Treasurer.

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