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Governor Appoints Financial Review Team To Examine Detroit Finances

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday appointed a financial review team to examine the city of Detroit’s finances.

The appointment comes after a preliminary review, which concluded last week, found that a “serious financial problem” currently exists in Detroit as a result of several issues.

The city now is operating under a consent agreement between Mayor Dave Bing and the Snyder administration designed to head off the appointment of an emergency financial manager.

“My administration has worked, and will continue to work in collaboration, with Mayor Bing and city officials to ensure a revitalized and successful Detroit,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “However, given the financial crisis that continues to grip the City of Detroit, we must move quickly to ensure city residents have continued access to essential services they expect and deserve.”

Bing said Tuesday’s announcement was “no surprise.”

“The state had indicated last week that it planned to appoint a financial review team,” the Democratic mayor said Tuesday night. “My administration will continue to focus on my restructuring plan, in cooperation with the City Council, to hopefully eliminate the need for an emergency financial manager.”

Bing has said he will lay off 400 to 500 city employees in the new year, roughly five percent of the workforce.

Detroit is billions of dollars in debt and has a budget deficit topping $200 million. It’s been meeting payroll and paying bills from millions of dollars in bond money from a state-controlled escrow account.

The review team will operate under a 1990 state emergency manager law and must report its findings to the governor within 60 days. The governor also can ask for a quicker report or can extend the deadline by 30 days. The team is to reach a finding on whether a serious financial problem exists and, if so, whether “a satisfactory plan exists to resolve the problem.” A new emergency manager law that the Legislature passed last week doesn’t take effect until March.

The review team includes Treasurer Andy Dillon; state Auditor General Thomas McTavish; Ken Whippel, board chairman of Korn/Ferry International; Darrell Burks, a senior partner with Pricewaterhouse Coopers; Ronald Goldsberry of Deloitte Consulting; and Frederick Headen, a legal adviser for the state Treasury Department.

Tuesday’s appointments follow Dillon’s announcement Friday that his preliminary financial review determined Detroit was not on target to fulfill promises to the state that allowed the city to avoid having an emergency manager.

Detroit has been experiencing a fiscal meltdown for years.

“We strongly feel that the review team will not find anything different in the city’s financial condition from what we had previously revealed to the state,” Bing said.

An estimate in August projected a cash deficit of $62 million for the city by June 30, 2013. But an October estimate placed the projected deficit at $84 million, while November’s had it at $122 million.

The cities of Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint, Ecorse and Allen Park currently are under emergency managers, as are the Muskegon Heights, Highland Park and Detroit public school districts.

Bing is expected to hold a news conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. to talk about the city’s financial crisis.

Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Detroit.com for continuing coverage.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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