DETROIT (WWJ) – Remember the epic budget battle between Detroit City Council and Mayor Dave Bing back in the spring? Given the mayor’s new warning about the city’s dire financial situation, council members say Bing probably should have listened to them earlier.
Speaking exclusively to WWJ Newsradio 950 City Beat reporter Vickie Thomas, Bing Thursday morning suggested that a state-appointed emergency financial manager may be needed unless unions agree to further cuts in health care benefits. Bing added that he might be willing to take on that role.
City Council Budget, Finance and Audit Committee Chairman Ken Cockrel doesn’t agree with Bing that the city needs an emergency manager.
Cockrel said Bing should have accepted the deeper cuts to the budget that were proposed by council, and should have sided with council members back then.
“This mayor actually has a city council who, for the past two years, has proposed budget cuts that were more extreme than even what the mayor initially proposed,” Cockrel said.
“And as you may recall, on both occasions, both this year and last year, the mayor fought us on that,” he said.
Cockrel said the mayor can still avoid a state takeover if he lays off about 1,000 to 1,500 city employees.
“That’s something that he has it within his power right now today as mayor. Not as emergency manager to do,” said Cockrel. “There are other things that could be done, such as consolidating certain departments, outsourcing certain services.”
Cockrel said perhaps Bing is banking on Governor Rick Snyder appointing the mayor to the EFM position.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reported that lawmakers in Lansing don’t support placing an emergency financial manager in Detroit.
Skubick said the governor’s office views all this discussion as “premature.”