MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — Wednesday night's special city council meeting was called to figure out the city's next steps after City Manager Troy Bell's contract wasn't renewed.
On Monday, the council voted four to three to let Bell go after his contract expires at the end of this month.
When the four members who voted against his contract renewal didn't show up to the special meeting, official business could not happen because the council did not have a quorum. Instead, the meeting turned into an open discussion between the community and the city council members in attendance.
"We are truly in a bad situation, in light of the fact we don't have a city manager. We have many issues we must continue with," Mayor Walter Watt says.
At the meeting, Bell did not address that his contract was not renewed, but rather he emphasized recent and upcoming growth in Muskegon Heights.
"To talk about the investment that is coming, that is on the verge of coming, there's so much that's here," Bell says.
Bell listed multiple companies that have come to Muskegon Heights since he started the job in 2020, and he mentioned the housing opportunities that are on the way.
"There is huge value here in Muskegon Heights in the land, and what we had to do was sell hope [and] the idea were moving positive because we didn't have any money to incentivize like Muskegon did, because we didn't have money to give tax breaks like Norton Shores did," Bell says.
Several community members who spoke thanked Bell for his work, and they called for answers from the absent council members on why they chose to not renew Bell's contract.
"If you're gonna fire someone, you ought to let the community know why you are firing them," one resident says.
Muskegon Heights has had four different city managers in the last six years, and some argued that needs to change, starting with the community.
"You sound like a bunch of fools, every time you get somebody, you can't keep nobody. That ain't them, that's us," Phyllis Laudermill, a local business owner, says.
There were calls in the audience at the meeting for a recall of some council members, and there were some in the crowd who disagreed.
"It's a lot of favoritism and I hate to say it," another resident says. "All I want is my city back."
At the meeting, Mayor Watt says there is not an interim or deputy city manager ready to take over the position. So, either the Michigan Municipal League or the state will likely get involved to bring in an emergency city manager.
Another special meeting is planned for Thursday night.
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