DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Mayor Dave Bing and Detroit City Council are planning their next move ahead of Monday’s deadline to request a hearing in hopes of convincing Gov. Rick Snyder to change his mind that Detroit needs an emergency financial manager (EFM).
Bing said he’s considering whether to appeal a determination by a state-appointed review team that Detroit has not put forward a plan to resolve the city’s serious financial problem. Bing has said the city does have a plan that could result in a budget surplus of $3.5 million by the end of next year, an argument he’s made since Snyder announced last week that Detroit needs an EFM.
A mayoral spokesperson told the Council at a meeting Wednesday that the mayor “is committed to contesting the facts” Snyder would use to appoint an EFM.
While the spokesperson wouldn’t answer the Council’s questions as to whether Bing would support appealing the appointment of an EFM, the mayor told the Associated Press he believes Snyder will appoint an EFM over the city’s finances and that he “intends to work collaboratively” with that person instead of battling with Lansing.
Bing said he hasn’t “quit on anything,” he’s just being a “realist” about the situation.
“For me, I don’t mind fighting, but I’m not stupid,” Bing said. “If I know I’m going to get in a fight that I have no chance of winning, why in the hell should I get in that fight? I’m much better off walking away from that and fighting another day.”
That news didn’t sit well with Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who said she’s still not ready to make nice with state leaders.
“We don’t want any emergency manager and I think it would be a big mistake to be sending that message out, big mistake. It sounds like we’re saying please help us save our jobs. Well, we have to stand for the constitution and our people,” she said.
Another council member, Ken Cockrel Jr., wants the governor to hold off until the new EFM law goes into effect on March 28, which would allow more leeway for local governments to choose their fiscal medicine.
“Given that the law is only days away from taking effect and since the governor is poised to pull the trigger on sending an EFM in earlier under the existing law, Public Act 72, why is that? Why not wait a little bit and actually let local officials, people who are elected by the people to represent them, have an opportunity to make a decision about the best way to move forward,” he said.
The city has until Monday to file an appeal and if they do so, a hearing would be held Tuesday. Bing said he will review a resolution to file an appeal given to him by the City Council, which is expected to vote on the resolution by Thursday.
Under Michigan law, an EFM has the power to develop financial plans, renegotiate labor contracts, revise and approve budgets to help control spending, sell off some city assets and suspend the salaries of elected officials. Snyder said he already has a person in mind to take the emergency manager’s job if he decides Detroit needs one to get out of its fiscal mess.
Detroit is billions of dollars in debt and has a budget deficit topping $300 million. It also has long-term debt topping $14 billion and has had trouble in recent months making payroll and paying other bills.
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