A quick trip through Highland Park should remind anyone that the city is not flush with cash.
But that doesn't seem to matter to the city's treasurer Janice Taylor-Bibbs, who in 2012 bought a house in Highland Park with federal funds administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority ( MSHDA), reports M.L. Elrick in his Detroit Free Press column Sunday. The neighborhood stabilization program provided funds to repair homes and build new ones.
Shortly after the purchase, MSHDA told Highland Park that Taylor-Bibbs may not be eligible for the program because rules forbid city employees from participating. Eventually, the city was forced to repay more than $90,000 to the program and was told to boot the treasurer from the home to make way for someone who is eligible to own it, Elrick writes.
In 2019, after repaying the program, Taylor-Bibbs was ordered to repay the city $90,619 within 30 days.
Last year, Robert Davis, a government watchdog, discovered that Taylor-Bibbs, who remains in the house, never repaid the money. Davis then convinced Wayne County Circuit Judge Charles Hegarty that Taylor-Bibbs violated the Highland Park charter and could not serve in office if she owes the city money. She has to vacate her office by Feb. 22, unless she appeals the ruling, Elrick reports.
Elrick writes that Davis is outraged that Highland Park officials have made no effort to collect the money owed, beyond putting a lien on Taylor-Bibbs' house.
"You have city officials essentially trying to cover this up," Davis told Elrick. "It’s quite alarming when you have a struggling community and you have individuals possibly attempting to cover up a crime dealing with federal and state funds that are badly needed by some residents."
Steve Neavling of Metro Times reported on the judge's ruling to boot the treasurer on Jan. 31.