BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor city leaders conceded Monday night that given its dire financial straits, the city needs good answers — but those answers will likely come from the state. That answer follows the release of a State of Michigan report Friday that called Benton Harbor's financial situation an emergency, one where “no satisfactory plan exists to resolve a serious financial problem.” The report also calls for Gov. Jennifer Granholm to appoint an emergency manager to takeover the city's finances. City leaders meeting in Benton Harbor reacted to that report, and it was with lots of debate — for more than two hours, and in front of a standing room only meeting crowd. The commission meeting touched on some of the findings of the state-appointed financial review team, findings that have played out in the public eye as “sensational headlines” on the news of an overall deficit of $4.1 million. Leaders acknowledged the financial mess, with the city’s pension funds underfunded and cash reserves dried up. Overdraft charges alone total nearly $100,000, the state team found. And people want to know who plans to fix the problem. City leaders assured residents that the city manager has developed a plan and officials are up to the challenge, but Michigan recommends a state-appointed emergency financial manager to tackle the problems they say the city caused in the first place. And that gets no argument from Benton Harbor Commissioner Bryan Joseph. “Nobody comes in and writes checks for our bills and our mortgage, rent and everything,” he said. “We’re responsible as commissioners. We are the stakeholders in our city, responsible for the finances of this city. That’s the bottom line.” A welcome bottom line, says Ron Carter Jr, the new city manager. “If you got a good idea how we can invest our pension funds better, get a larger return on our investment without risk, I want to hear about it,” Carter said. And, whether it’s by invitation or not, help with financial oversight is OK with Carter, even if that means Michigan’s intervention. “It is welcome,” Mayor Wilce Cooke said. “If they can come in and help us get all our books in order, we’d welcome that.” Granholm has until the end of February to decide whether a state financial takeover is warranted. Click here to read the letter sent to Governor Granholm by the Benton Harbor Financial Review Team.