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      State of the City Address: Flint's mayor calls for fewer city council members and department heads to save money and protect police and firefighter jobs

      Flint residents protest Mayor Dayne Walling's State of the City address with shirts that say "please resign" on the front and back.

      Flint Mayor Dayne Walling wants to see fewer city council members in office. That declaration was made as the biggest bombshell in his State of the City address Thursday evening, in which he called for sweeping reductions in city hall including positions he appoints, and several units that rely on city funding.

      The plan requires changes to the city charter that would reduce city council seats down to seven from the current nine after redistricting. Currently the mayor can appoint nearly a dozen city officials to manage various operations, but his proposal would cut that number down to seven as well. It would also end general funding for the Civil Service Commission, Ombudsman Office and Human Relations Commission.

      Walling said the city could save $6 million over four years, and more than $15 million in ten years, with those savings redirected toward saving police and firefighter jobs.

      These are essential savings at a time when revenues are declining but when the need for public safety and economic development has never been greater, Walling said.

      Perhaps naturally, not all city council members like this idea, including Council President Jackie Poplar.

      You TMre only saving maybe $60,000, she said if council were to be reduced by two seats. However, she said she supports cuts in the mayor TMs office because you TMre dealing with (up to) $100,000 jobs. You cut two of these out and you TMre saving $200,000.

      Council members would also have to approve the changes in the city charter before they could become reality.


      Walling highlighted several accomplishments including the latest announcement of a police mini-station at the Foss Avenue Baptist Church in Ward 3, meaning each of the city's 9 wards now has a mini-station. This was a campaign pledge made by the mayor two years ago.

      There was also the recent passage of two new cost cutting contracts by Flint TMs two AFSCME unions (the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). The contracts contain the double-digit concessions long sought by city administrators.

      Walling said the city also created or maintained more than 1,000 jobs, after setting the goal of creating one new job for each day of 2010, bringing the city well over the goal of 365 new jobs for that year. The Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce has also been credited for this work.

      Remaining challenges

      Earlier this month Walling announced the city would lose roughly $8.1 million in annual revenue from the state as part of Gov. Rick Snyder TMs proposed cuts in revenue sharing, which makes devastating citywide layoffs almost certain.

      Also in place are the current demotions of 10 firefighters and the possible closure of Fire Station #8 on Atherton Road, protecting the city TMs south side.

      This is on top of a deficit more than $17 million deep, and a stalled attempt at securing a $20 million stabilization bond from the state treasury. Residents are also sore over the effort to bill residents for the acquisition of the Genesee Towers properties after the city lost a case from in the Michigan Supreme Court.

      NBC25 Talkback: Do you think cutting city council positions and jobs in the mayor's office will save enough money? Do you think council members will approve the move? Do you think Flint is on the right track considering the accomplishments mentioned? Share your thoughts and talk back to us!