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Consultant Recommends Part-Time Detroit City Council, Cutting Staff

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Restructuring consultant Conway McKenzie is recommending a part-time Detroit City Council, and cutting 78 of the 115 staff members on council.

President Pro-tem Gary Browne says that he supports cost savings, in fact, he’s suggested some – but dramatically cutting the staff would affect service.

“We’re going to a district system – and each district is going to have a hundred thousand constituents in it and there is no city in the country where council people have a hundred thousand constituents,” he said.

He adds that recommendations in the report made incorrect comparisons:

“Some of the cities the Conway McKenzie compared us to was Nashville, Tennessee – they have 32 city council people – yes, they are part time, but there are 32 of them.”

He questions the focus on the city council for such dramatic cuts.

Brown says he was not consulted before these recommendations were made.

“I don’t know why a department, like city council, which is less than one-half of one percent of the overall budget was the one that was utilized for this example of ‘how do you create savings,'” Brown said.

He says the council and its staff are needed to keep a broken city government – limping along. “Our departments aren’t functioning properly. If a citizen in the city of Detroit could call building and safety and get a house torn down next to them – they would – but they can’t so they call city council in order to get some assistance with that.”

City Council could see its budget slashed from $11.2 million to only $3.8 million as a result of the proposed restructuring to move to a part-time council. In addition to the pay cut, staff would be cut to one person, currently each council member has between four and eight people on payroll. The move would save over $7 million in the next fiscal year.

The city’s  Emergency Financial Manager Kevin Orr is reviewing the proposal as is Mayor Dave Bing who will present his budget to council on Friday.

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