DETROIT (WWJ) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says it could take weeks to determine if he will appoint an emergency financial manager to oversee Detroit’s finances.
Snyder stopped in Detroit on Thursday, hosting a roundtable discussion at Cadillac Place. He talked about Detroit’s financial picture for the first time since the state-appointed review team found the city is in a financial emergency.
Snyder said Detroit’s budget crisis is not a new problem.
“This isn’t about the last year; this isn’t about what’s gone on since Mayor Bing. This is an issue that’s structurally been there for decades,” Snyder said.
Snyder said the biggest problem in the city has been a decline in population over time.”And the overriding strategic goal for the city of Detroit is back to this: We need to grow the city of Detroit — that’s the longterm answer here,” he said.
Snyder said, at this point, there are basically three choices: Firstly, he could determine that there isn’t a financial emergency — which, said Snyder, we all know is “not realistic.” The second option would be to draft revised consent agreement, and the third would be the appointment of an emergency financial manager.
Snyder said, now that the report is out, he wants to take some time to carefully review it — and also to talk to Detroit leaders, including Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, about what they think should be done.
The governor said he’s not looking to point fingers.
“Because too often people are jumping right to the numbers and sort of looking about who to blame for all of this, and we shouldn’t be spending time on the blame question,” said Snyder. “That’s not how we’re going to solve this problem.”
Among those who would support the appointment of an emergency financial manager is Greater Detroit Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah, who thinks an EFM could find ways of dealing with Detroit’s financial crisis that the mayor and city council cannot.
For example, collecting money owed to the city.
“One of the options is to allow the state to go out and collect those funds for us and pay them a fee. That is something that has been done in other communities and the state has done a pretty good job of collecting back taxes,” said Baruah. “I really applaud the mayor for creating an amnesty program that allows people to pay their back taxes without penalty — and that has brought in some money as well.”
Detroit is billions of dollars in debt and has a budget deficit topping $300 million.