In the face of sweeping changes to the way Michigan oversees the finances of local units of government and school districts, the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has created the Emergency Manager Law Team and developed an online news and analysis resource.
Warner Norcross has tapped into the collective expertise of attorneys, including a current and a former mayor, to establish the team, which includes specialists in government affairs, municipal law, bankruptcy, financial services, litigation, labor and other related areas. The law firm has also launched a microsite, http://emergencymanagers.wnj.com/, which will serve as a clearinghouse of information from state government, news reports and editorials, think tanks, research councils and other sources to provide up-to-date details on the law and its effectiveness.
In March, Michigan's legislature significantly expanded the authority of government-appointed emergency managers under Public Act 4, which is also known as the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. The law provides new procedures for the state to monitor the fiscal health of local government and to intervene if there is financial distress.
In some cases, the state will enter into a consent agreement with the local governmental unit to address financial problems and restore financial stability. In cases of financial emergency, the governor may place the local governmental unit in receivership and appoint an EM to manage virtually all aspects of the local unit of government.
A handful of entities, including the city of Benton Harbor and Detroit Public Schools, currently operate under emergency managers. Mayors in Detroit and other cities are evaluating the option of asking the state to review their finances, which is the first step toward a consent agreement or appointment of an EM.
"We are working to help cities, school districts, businesses and others stay on top of this groundbreaking and complex issue," said Tim Horner, a partner and member of the Warner Norcross team. "The pace of change in this area is incredibly fast. Warner Norcross is out front on this issue and can be a resource."
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About Warner Norcross & Judd
Warner Norcross & Judd is a corporate law firm with more than 220 attorneys practicing in six offices throughout Michigan: Grand Rapids, Holland, Lansing, Muskegon, Southfield and Sterling Heights. By providing sound legal advice and alternative fee arrangements, Warner Norcross & Judd forges a better partnership with its clients. To learn more follow us on Twitter, @WNJLLP.