DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Let there be light! The Michigan Senate approved legislation Tuesday that brings the creation of a public lighting authority for Detroit one step closer to reality.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said the legislation had been debated for months and previously declared “dead” by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville after lawmakers failed to agree on details.
One bill would let some cities, including Detroit, put lighting authorities in place. Another would allow part of a utility users’ tax to fund public lighting. The third would eliminate the rollback of Detroit income taxes.
“This is good news for the city of Detroit, if the Michigan House follows the lead of the state Senate, to create this independent authority that would sell bonds to help turn the lights back on. Not only the individual lights, but actually reinvent the system down there, which is in massive decay,” said Skubick.
Detroit has roughly 88,000 street lamps, about half of which the city estimates are in disrepair. The public lighting authority, if created, would concentrate first on restoring functional lighting near schools and population centers.
“If the Michigan House goes along, the lights could be coming back on not immediately, but certainly over the long haul,” said Skubick.
Mayor Dave Bing announced his plan for street lighting earlier this summer. He said passage of the bills would let Detroit invest up to $160 million to modernize the system.
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