DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and city leaders are firing back against reports that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has requested a formal review of the city’s financial situation – a possible first step down the road to an eventual Emergency Manager being appointed for the city.
“Detroit needs to be run by Detroiters,” said the mayor, at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “We are here to send a clear message. We are opposed to an Emergency Manager. We’re making progress and moving closer than ever to addressing this fiscal crisis.”
By the way, said Bing, Lansing “owes us some money.”
“We’ve asked the state to see what they can do about the $220 million owed to the city of Detroit that helped put us in this position in the first place,” said Bing, referring to a 1998 agreement with the state to lower its income taxes in exchange for a guaranteed level of state revenue sharing funds.
While the city followed through on its commitment, Bing said the state did not keep its promise.
Bing has said Detroit has an accumulated deficit of about $150 million and faces a $45 million cash shortfall. He plans to lay off 1,000 workers but said city unions need to agree to more concessions.
Bing said there are other ways state leaders can help Detroit, other than appointing a manager.
“I’d like to see action on some of the critical initiatives that we proposed to the state to help Detroit to come fiscally stable once again,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, the leadership of about 50 unions that represent city workers met with Detroit City Council for about four hours to offer suggestions on how the city can cut costs.
Al Garrett is chief of AFSCME Council 25, which includes some of the city’s biggest unions.
“This is a hopeful moment. It says that the mayor acknowledges that the stakeholder ought to be at the table,” Garret said. “There ought to be a free exchange of information and a true desire to work through the problems of the city of Detroit.”
Following Mayor Bing’s comments Thursday, City Councilwoman Joanne Watson took the podium, stressing that Detroit is strong enough to handle its own financial problems.
“This is a city that has followed all of the rules of engagement, and we stand ready and poised to take care of the financial business of the city,” said Watson. “Of course, it will help when the state pays its bill.”
Watson says it’s “outrageous” that a state that has its own financial problems has the nerve to point fingers at the city of Detroit. “There’s constitutional protections in place to govern our own city,” she said.
Speaking to reporters in west Michigan, Gov. Snyder said he’s not sure why Bing is unwilling to seek help from the state.
“He just said he didn’t really want to ask for a review and it’s like well, I don’t necessarily understand that conclusion because if you’re in tough financial shape, why wouldn’t you want people to help you?” Snyder said.
“The whole issue of the preliminary review is not sending a conclusion that there’s going to be an emergency manager or consent agreement. To the degree they solve the problem, it basically says they did some work and they’re going to move on now,” he continued.
Snyder said Detroit should be welcoming any help from Lansing, adding that Mayor Bing’s financial report even pointed out issues that needed review.
“Didn’t his report on the face of it say there’s serious financial issues that deserve review? So, people shouldn’t read into all kinds of things into this. This is basically saying, isn’t it time for a preliminary review based on what the Mayor said?” Snyder said.
A state review of Detroit’s finances could begin as early as Friday.