DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Gov. Rick Snyder held a town hall meeting on Detroit’s finances Wednesday at Wayne County Community College where he said the goal isn’t just to stabilize the troubled town — it’s to grow the city.
“If Detroit continues to decline, it’s a huge problem,” Snyder said. “How we grow the city is how we grow out of this problem.”
He said residents need to ask themselves: “Are you excited about being in the city or are you thinking about leaving? If
you’re thinking about leaving, we’re in trouble.”
So, should public safety officers have to move to the city? “That should be a discussion between the city and the labor
people,” Snyder said. “One of the questions is … Getting people excited to live in Detroit. That’s one of the challenges that I have.”
Beyond residency, Snyder said the state needs to help Detroit with: a lighting authority, a regional transit authority,
a plan to partner on Belle Isle so the city could own it and the state could operate it on a lease agreement as a state park.
But Snyder backed away from any discussion that the state is trying to take over Detroit. The governor is pushing a consent agreement that would give a nine-member financial board oversight of Detroit’s finances, and hit benchmarks to cut the budget and raise revenue. The plan could be in place as early as this week, the governor has said.
“I don’t want to try to manage Detroit…Too many cases in Detroit has been talking about doing things…The citizens
deserve action,” Snyder said.
The governor pointed out Detroit has borrowed $600 million since 2005 “just to get by,” and issued another $137 million in
bonds this week to avoid going bankrupt as early as this spring.
“Just spending more money without structural change…We need to see better services and balance take place. Now we’re on
a path to success, let’s check off things in those boxes to do. How can we double down, show a real investment on return,
instead of continuing (down this path)?”
Mayor Dave Bing has come out swinging against the consent agreement, criticizing the governor both personally and
professionally. So, does the governor have faith in Bing despite a possible personality clash?
“His success means we’re all succeeding,” Snyder said. “This meeting isn’t about personalities. I’ve had a great
relationship with the mayor, I’m concerned about his health. (Citizens) are looking to say ‘Are things getting better or
worse in Detroit’…That’s ultimately how we should be judged. I’m an accountant, I’m not the most exciting guy.
“There isn’t a lot of good reason why this wasn’t done some time ago. I’m impatient, and as a practical matter I think
the citizens are impatient.”
Addressing the basic, fundamental line in the overall situation between the state and city of Detroit, Snyder
said: “We all want the same solution, Detroit to succeed. We’re working on the language, we’re not telling them the
language…It took how many decades to get into this mess, it’s not going to get solved overnight. In many respects, I am
also optimistic. If you step back and look at it, why shouldn’t we all be able to do that?”