Village delays plans to avert financial crisis despite deadline

Dozens packed into Thursday night's village council meeting to voice concerns over Elberta's financial situation.

The Benzie County Village of Elberta has a financial debt crisis on its hands. The community is more than $500,000 in debt. Now the state is requiring them to make a plan to get them out of trouble.

At Thursday nightâ??s council meeting, no deal was reached, despite a state-imposed Friday morning deadline.

Council members questioned that deadline. They said they had not seen it in writing and that they did not have enough time to develop a five year plan to eliminate the outstanding debt the village owes itself for borrowing from its sewer fund.

Going into the meeting, the council president stressed the fact that there would be no extensions from the state, nor would there be any bargaining with the state.

Despite the warnings, the council unanimously voted to table the issue for a future meeting.

â??I really feel that we might be in trouble with the state,â?? said Reginald Manville, Elberta village council president. â??There's going to be cuts; it's going to be painful. It's not going to be just a paper to sign. People are going have to pay. There will be cuts to services, cuts in jobs, taxes. Nobody likes these things, but we have to do it.â??

After the council members tabled the issue, the people who packed into the meeting got a chance to share their thoughts.

Many agreed with one man who spoke up saying the village needs to pay its bills, not because the state says so, but because it's the right and responsible thing to do.

If no deal is reached, or the state does not approve a future deal the council makes, an emergency financial manager could be appointed for the village.