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Flint council delays vote on $20 million insurance payment for city's share of water crisis settlement

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

The Flint City Council voted Thursday to postpone a vote on the city's $20 million portion of the state of Michigan's proposed $641 million settlement stemming from Flint water crisis lawsuits.

Flint city councilwoman for the city's 7th Ward Monica Galloway.

Council members held lengthy discussions Thursday over approving the city of Flint's $20 million insurance payment that would go toward the settlement of a class-action lawsuit stemming from lead in household water pipes beginning in 2014, when the city switched water sources.

They agreed to discuss the issue Monday at a scheduled City Council meeting.

Concerns by some on the council include what authorizing the payment would mean for the city and whether the settlement itself was large enough to cover replacement of pipes and future lawsuits.

"I will not be placing my name on this," 7th Ward Councilwoman Monica Galloway said Thursday. "This was systemic racism. I will not be supporting this. I won't do it."

FILE - Council vice president and chairperson for the committee Eric Mays from Ward 1 at a special affairs committee before the city council meeting at the city hall in Flint on Jan. 13, 2020.

1st Ward Councilman Eric Mays and Galloway urged their colleagues to vote no Thursday on approving the insurance payment. Mays called for more study of the proposed settlement with representatives from the insurance company before voting.

"We don't have to vote on this tonight," said Mays. "I'm saying you all should slow down. This is a proposed settlement. This is the first one. This thing is structured in a way where it could leave so many people out."

The session Thursday followed a six-hour meeting Monday at which the Ctiy Council delayed a decision on the issue.

The city has until Dec. 31 to approve the $20 million payment. The state has said that the settlement will go forward with or without the council approving the money from its insurer. Flint officials say without the council's voting to use the insurance payment, settlement money would be drawn from the city’s budget, which could end up passed on to taxpayers, ABC 12 News reported.

The water tower at the Flint water plant, September 28, 2015.

"I'm not going to do that to my constituents," said 9th Ward Councilwoman Eva Worthing.

Worthing said she "remained confident" about approving the proposed settlement. "I know I'm voting the right way, she said.

The settlement stems from Flint's water supply being contaminated with lead from April 2014 to October 2015, when officials used corrosive, untreated river water after the city began using the Flint River as a water supply to reduce costs. The city previously had used treated water supplied from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Flint  officials reversed course, returning to Detroit water after residents began to complain of dirty, contaminated water.