Flint loses $4 million reverse discrimination lawsuit. Who pays?

Former Flint Mayor Don Williamson addressing the media in 2006

The already cash-strapped City of Flint now finds itself losing a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

An arbitration panel says race was a significant factor in the promotion of Flint Police officers in 2006.

Now, the city is out more than four-million dollars.

In 2006, Flint Mayor Don Williamson promoted several officers to an elite group called the Citizens Service Bureau.

It included four African American men and one white woman.

All three police unions raised a red flag saying Williamson did not follow procedures for the promotions.

"He didn't post these positions. He didn't test for these positions. He simply decreed," says attorney Glen Lenhoff, attorney for the majority of plaintiffs.

The 47 plaintiffs say the promotions were for political gain saying Williamson was feeling pressure from the African American community to install more African American commanding officers.

Williamson formed the bureau in 2006 and 2007 was an election year.

Both the city and the plaintiffs say the decision of one caused enormous damage to the city.

Who's going to pay for it?

City attorney Peter Bade says, "The administration's position is that this will not be put on the tax roll and that we'll figure out a way to pay for it."

Citizens say even if they don't have to pay an additional tax for this lawsuit, they still don't like it because they know it's still going to come from them.

"I don't think it's right. That's what I think about it. There's no way they got a choice but to pay it," says Flint resident Walter Gatewood.

"They spent the people's money," says David Peterson of Flint.

All this just nine months after the city lost a more than $8-million lawsuit over the abandoned Genesee Towers, which residents will have to pay an additional $150 a year to cover it.

NBC25 called former Flint Mayor Don Williamson and asked him about the lawsuit.

He says he has no comment on the matter.

Now comes the issue of collecting.

Flint doesn't have $4-million to pay.

Every day it goes unpaid, the interest gets higher.

The city could appeal, but that is costly, and there's no guarantee it would win.

Plaintiffs could have gone after Don Williamson personally, but since he was a city employee at the time, there's the issue of indemnity. That means the city would have to pay the bill anyway.

The plaintiffs in the case say they hope this ruling sets a precedent that reverse discrimination is unconstitutional.