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City's emergency financial manager calls experience bittersweet

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- Benton Harbor Emergency Financial Manager Joe Harris held his last press conference Wednesday and discussed his achievements and issues still facing the city.

Later this month, he'll turn over his position to the state appointed replacement.

In the press conference, he called the experience bittersweet.

He acknowledged his mistakes in not working with the city commissioners and ultimately agreed that it was his downfall.

But he says a lot of good came out of his tenure. He pointed to improvements in the city's parks, updates on technology for city hall and many other departments.

He says the new manager has his work cut out for him though, because there's still an almost $2 million shortfall in the city's budget.

"It’s not the way I wanted it. It's not the way I desired it. I will tell you there are commissioners as well as staff that will tell you, I tried to mend some fences but it never worked,” said Harris.

Simply put he says the city just doesn't have the money and will have to agree to some sort of tax increase.

Harris will stick around for another month to help ease the transition over to his 27-year-old replacement.

After that, he says he has a few job offers.

He didn't rule out maybe becoming a manager of another town elsewhere.
 

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