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Public Policy and Administration


Clarence Williamson


Municipalities in Michigan get their power from the state of Michigan who responded to the Great Recession with austerity policies impacting the relationship between local and state government. Evidence points toward the use of cutback management as a long-term coping tool when addressing fiscal shortages. A single case study design documented a rural city manager’s experience in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan using a semistructured interview and 10 years of archived public documents (2006 2016). The participant was selected using random sampling from 11 counties. Cutback management asserts that policymakers will address budget deficits by using initiatives in the short term and interventions if the crisis continues. The municipality began to feel the effects of revenue-sharing cuts as early as 2004. Key findings illustrated the use of both assumptions (initiatives and interventions) in the early stages before the Great Recession. The fiscal outlook did not change for the better and using revenue sharing payments in the budget planning was no longer a viable option. The city manager and city commission shifted the policy-making from short-term initiatives and interventions toward the community assets’ long-term investment with strategically planned economic development projects and partnerships requiring the city to take on long-term debt. Positive social change is achievable in local government or rural municipalities specific to a city manager’s life cycle. The ability to balance short-term fiscal deficits with long-term organizational goals can be challenging, requiring the manager to solve problems from all angles and with all community stakeholders.