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Flint City Council may vote on $20 million water settlement in two weeks

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 5:59 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The Flint City Council is scheduled to vote in two weeks on contributing $20 million to the proposed $641.2 million Flint water crisis settlement.

The city’s insurance carrier announced it would add $20 million to the lawsuit at no cost to taxpayers under the proposed agreement. But that could change if city council members vote to opt out.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said people affected by the water crisis cwould be paying to settle their own lawsuits if council members don’t approve the $20 million settlement.

“This may be the most important vote that this Flint City Council will take as it relates to the future for this community,” he said.

The $20 million from Flint would be added to $600 million from the state of Michigan, $20 million from McLaren Flint Hospital and $1.2 million from Rowe Professional Services. A federal judge still has to approve the settlement before any money will be disbursed.

If the Flint City Council doesn’t approve the $20 million payment from its insurance carrier, Neeley said any settlement money would come out of the city’s budget. City Attorney Angela Wheeler said the insurance company then would withdraw from the agreement.

“Because then what are they actually getting for their money?” she said. “They’re not getting that peace, they’re not getting that resolve that these cases are off the table. It opens everything up and we’re trying to close this off.”

Without those insurance dollars -- and with the litigation from thousands of claimants continuing -- Neeley and Wheeler said resolving those cases could come out of the pockets of the very people suing the city. That means whatever the city is asked to pay out would be divided among taxpayers.

“This settlement benefits residents. This $20 million benefits residents,” Neeley said. “This is a great step in the correct direction to getting a resolve for Flint residents.”

Since the $20 million agreement with Flint was announced in November, complaints arose that council members should reject it because it’s not enough money. But Neeley said it’s not up to council members because it’s already been negotiated in court by both parties.

He believes more money could be added to the settlement fund with other defendants like the Environmental Protection Agency still left to settle litigation related to the Flint water crisis.

Flint City Council President Kate Fields is expecting a lot of discussion on Dec. 14. She’s hoping for a vote that evening or at the council’s final meeting of the year on Dec. 21.

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