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Official addresses Muskegon Height's city manager's firing

Some officials still hoped to extend the embattled city manager's contract following Monday's ouster.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — 13 ON YOUR SIDE continues to track new developments tied to a chaotic meeting in Muskegon Heights earlier this week.

A divided city council voted to terminate the contract of City Manager Troy Bell during a marathon session Monday.

The vote was four-to-three in favor of not extending Bell’s contract, which is due to expire January 31.

Under the circumstances, leadership would fall to the city’s finance director.

That position, however, remained open in advance of Bell’s departure.

Instead, authority was expected to transfer to the office of the mayor and city council, Mayor Pro Tem Ronald Jenkins related Thursday.

Some have questioned the level of urgency guiding efforts to resolve the situation in the aftermath of Monday’s decision following a special session Wednesday, later cancelled when several council members failed to appear.


13 ON YOUR SIDE was told council expected a presentation by Bell, though the topic of discussion remained unclear.

The outgoing city manager was suspended by council in 2020 after reportedly signing a communications contract on Muskegon Heights’ behalf under questionable circumstances.

The circumstances surrounding his firing, however, were unknown at the time of publication.

Jenkins numbered among the three council members to vote in support of keeping Bell on, praising the embattled city manager’s efforts to revitalize the city.

The mayor pro tem addressed the controversy Thursday when, in response to a question from 13 ON YOUR SIDE, Jenkins said he wasn’t aware of any questionable activity surrounding Bell’s departure.

“I've been here a year and a half now plus, I still have no findings, or no issues with what he is doing in his job,” Jenkins explained. “He hasn't left the building. He hasn't stopped working… these are things that he's doing to make sure that Muskegon Heights continues to progress.”

With Bell’s exit looming, it was unlikely the search for his replacement would bear results prior to the established Jan. 31 deadline.

Jenkins shared concerns with regard to what a potential delay may entail for city government and several of ongoing projects spearheaded by Bell’s administration before turning the microscope on city council, which he suggested suffered as a result of various communication issues.

“Right now, a lot of things are built on emotions and that is what jeopardizes our city,” he said of the firing. “We have to as a city, as a people, get rid of our own personal issues, and come together and make some tough decisions by humbling ourselves. We say were the City of Friendly People, let's act like it.”

Jenkins added Bell’s supporters were actively exploring the possibility of brining the embattled administrator’s contract—potentially with revisions to its time span and requirements--back from the brink and that the effort would require only one vote.

Another meeting was expected prior to the next scheduled session.

Repeated attempts by 13 ON YOUR SIDE to contact the council members who supported Bell's termination went unanswered. 

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