Warren City Council may file a formal complaint with Michigan’s attorney general over funds spent by Mayor Jim Fouts.
It’s the latest move in a battle over the city’s budget that has spilled into the courts.
The council and the mayor have been at odds over an amount exceeding $650,000, initially earmarked in the 2021 budget, intended for a city advertising campaign featuring Fouts himself.
Council members removed the appropriation.
But Fouts spent the money anyway, arguing Warren’s city charter only allows city council to approve or reject an entire budget — not just a piece of it. Council members decided to take the matter to Macomb County Circuit Court, which ruled the legislative body did have authority to amend a portion of Warren’s budget.
Fouts appealed the circuit court’s decision, but on Dec. 29, the state court of appeals agreed with the circuit court’s ruling.
“This was not a mistake but an intentional act designed to undermine the checks and balances in city government,” Council President Patrick Green said in a statement.
According to The Detroit News, Council Secretary Mindy Moore said the council intends to file formal complaints with Attorney General Dana Nessel and Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, requesting enforcement against Fouts using the Uniform Budgeting and Accounting Act. The law allows legal action to be taken to recover funds spent illegally.
“These were not required expenditures for resident health, safety, or welfare. He was promoting himself in TV ads. He should reimburse taxpayers,” Moore said.
Fouts has previously said he would appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court if necessary.