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Muskegon Heights city manager will not have contract renewed after city council vote

Mayor Walter Watt was not in favor of the decision, saying those who voted to oust Bell haven't given a clear reason for not wanting him to return.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — A shakeup of Muskegon Heights city leaders is coming at the end of this month. Council members elected not to have the city manager's contract renewed, and the mayor is disappointed.

Mayor Walter Watt says City Manager Troy Bell will no longer be with the city once his contract expires on Jan. 31. This comes after a vote by the city council on Monday night, which saw a slim majority of four of the council members vote not to renew Bell.

Mayor Watt was not in favor of the decision, saying those who voted to oust Bell haven't given a clear reason for not wanting him to return.

"We are in a state of emergency because we have no one," says Watt. "We have issues with our finance department. We have things that we need to complete. Who's going to do payroll and going to sign invoices, those things we have to do?"

Watt says Bell has done more for the city in his tenure as city manager than he's seen in his lifetime. 

Bell is credited with being a leading voice in the city's "Reaching New Muskegon Heights" campaign to revitalize its downtown corridor. 

"I personally just want to thank Mr. Bell for the things that he's done for the citizens and the city of Muskegon Heights and moving this city forward and providing a vision that we haven't had in a very long time," says Watt.

He adds that some key parts of the city's revitalization plan, like adding developments downtown, could now be at risk of not being completed. 

"Mr. Bell was making those things happen where we get potentially developers with property taxes, income taxes and creating new jobs and beautifying the community as well," says Watt. 

Bell was hired in September of 2019. Less than a year later, he was temporarily suspended for hiring a business without the council's consent. 

Watt says he is uncertain how the city will proceed with replacing Bell and is asking state leaders for guidance.

City managers are a key part in local government and day-to-day operations, like doing payroll and signing off on invoices. 

There will be a special meeting held Wednesday night at 6 p.m. to discuss next steps. 

13 ON YOUR SIDE made multiple attempts to reach any member of the city council on Tuesday but did not receive any responses.


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