FLINT (WJRT) (11/20/2017) - The Flint City Council continues to wrestle with the decision on who it would prefer to be the city's long-term water provider.
But time is running out.
The council went into executive session after bickering Monday morning about a hearing scheduled in U.S. District Court this afternoon. Judge David Lawson could issue an order during the hearing allowing Mayor Karen Weaver to bypass the council and approve a water contract on her own.
Weaver already has signed a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority in Detroit, which the city council has not ratified. Council members also are weighing a competing proposal from the Karegnondi Water Authority, which will supply Genesee County communities around Flint.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sued the city of Flint to force officials to approve a long-term water supply contract, which would avoid a repeat of the Flint water emergency. Lawson has given Flint City Council members several extensions to come up with a permanent water source for the city over the last few months.
On Monday, Lawson was expected to hear arguments for and against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's request to authorize Mayor Weaver to sign the 30-year-deal without council approval.
City council members say giving the mayor that much authority is unconstitutional under the city charter. They are asking for permission to sign a short-term extension with the Great Lakes Water Authority, which would give them time to study both long-term proposals in depth.
Council members were still meeting in executive session at Flint City Hall around noon. They later adjourned that meeting and traveled to the federal courthouse in Detroit.
In a separate Flint water-related lawsuit, a federal judge was expected to hear arguments Monday afternoon on whether a lawsuit seeking free screenings for children affected by lead in Flint's water should proceed.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Education, Genesee Intermediate School District and Flint Community Schools.
Judge Arthur Tarnow ruled on Sept. 29 that the lawsuit could proceed, which prompted appeals from the three defendants seeking to stop the case. The ACLU sought an injunction to move the case forward and Tarnow denied requests from the defendants to halt proceedings.