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Portland says they were eligible for emergency funding, contrary to state police

Posted: 6:54 PM, Aug 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-15 05:13:01-04
Gretchen Whitmer

LANSING, Mich. — The city of Portland is asking Governor Gretchen Whitmer to grant the city's request for emergency funding after the Michigan State Police recommended the city wasn't eligible.

Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Portland back in February because of ice jams and extreme flooding. The city asked for $100,000 in emergency funding. But last month, the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division of the Michigan State Police recommended that the city didn't meet the criteria for financial assistance.

After evaluating information provided by the city, MSP makes a recommendation to the governor who then makes the decision to either grant or deny the request.

The city sent a letter to Governor Whitmer with the request on Tuesday. In their letter, the city said MSP failed to properly apply the statutory criteria for assistance eligibility.

"They felt that we did not exhaust our local resources which that's explained in the letter and we think that's a mischaracterization. In fact, we did exhaust our local resources," said Tutt Gorman, Portland City Manager.

Gorman said that the city sustained significant damage to public infrastructures, such as the electric utility, river trail system, and the wastewater treatment plant which operated beyond its capacity.

Gorman thinks that someone at the division doesn't understand how the rules work.

"You don't get to sit back and say what you may feel is unreasonably great or what someone else may feel. That's very subjective and that would come across as arbitrary and capricious. That's why you have the administrative rules to follow those criteria," Gorman said.

Dale George, a spokesperson for MSP's Emergency Management Division said that they're examining the letter and haven't made a decision to reconsider the request.

The city wants the governor to have oversight over MSP when or if they make a new recommendation.

"This is not an emotional plea. This is a request to simply follow the law," Gorman said.

A spokesperson for the governor's office said that they have received the city's letter.

Gorman said that they do have money in their existing general fund to make the necessary repairs but don't feel like they should be required to.

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