DETROIT (WWJ) – Mayor Bing’s plans to solve Detroit’s financial crisis are drawing a cautious reaction from several members of the city council.
Speaking live on WWJ the morning after Bing’s speech, Council President Charles Pugh said the mayor’s plan doesn’t go far enough.
“We’re dealing with a cash flow issue, meaning that we need to control what we can control and that is, we can control the amount of people who work for the City of Detroit… and when you’re in a cash crisis, we need to start laying people off. So, I think that the mayor should have been very clear that we need at least 1,500 layoffs, maybe 2,000 while we wait on these union concessions,” said Pugh.
Pugh said the council would support layoffs across the board.
“From all departments, the mayor’s office, the city council and every department including police and fire. The fact is that we have taken wage and benefit concessions from every union except police and fire. But what people don’t know is that police and fire comprise half of our budget. So, if we’re going to get real cost savings, it’s going to have to come from public safety as well,” said Pugh.
Pugh said they wouldn’t have to lay off any officer or firefighters if they accepted wage and benefit concessions.
Listen to Pugh’s full interview below:
Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey was one of three council members in the audience for the mayor’s address. He said there are a lot of ‘ifs’ in the mayor’s plan.
“If we can get it done, if we can cut healthcare, if we can get that 10 percent in our healthcare costs, if the unions will take that 10 percent. There were a lot of ifs,” said Spivey.
Councilman James Tate said the problem has been failed negotiations with the unions.
“Having to get these individuals, these unions, to bargain and to actually say this is what we’re looking to do. I didn’t hear today that anything was guaranteed,” said Tate.
Tate doesn’t think the mayor’s plan will be enough to fix Detroit’s problems.
“I would be daring to say that it would be enough right now but I want to really have the opportunity to go back and really start peeling back the layers and see exactly what this looks like. Hearing the layouts that we hear today, I don’t know where does it start, and again, we’re looking at right now having to get these individuals, these unions, to bargain,” said Tate
Councilwoman Joann Watson was also on hand for the mayor’s speech Wednesday night, in which Mayor Bing said the city faces a $45 million shortfall by the end of the fiscal year.
A key element to Bing’s financial recovery plan is that unionized workers need to accept a 10 percent wage cut and a 10 percent increase in employee payments for health insurance.