Reporting Vickie Thomas
DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit’s emergency manager says the city is bleeding much more red ink than originally thought. That’s what Kevyn Orr told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas in an exclusive one-on-one interview.
“The situation is severe,” Orr said. “It’s worse that we originally thought. It ain’t good.”
With just 39 days under his belt, Orr is already putting the final touches on a draft of his 40-plus page financial report, which must be submitted to the state on Monday.
“I’ve been spending virtually every day from March 25 when I got here, looking at the city’s financials. This is an emergency. I’ve got 16 and three-quarters months to deal with it,” he said. “This is truly a financial emergency and we need to move with speed because frankly, we can’t be here in the same position next year.”
In the report, Orr uses charts and graphs to paint the bleak picture of the city’s finances, including over $15 billion in long-term debt and an accumulated operating deficit of $325 million.
“We’ve been collecting operating deficits at about $18 million to $20 million a year. That’s nobody’s fault, I think, frankly, the mayor and the council has done the best they can with what they have. The city has probably cut as much as it can cut to the bone now, and so its been trying to operate on the basis of borrowing short-term loans all the time,” he said.
Orr said he isn’t ruling out bankruptcy for the city just yet.
“Frankly, from my perspective, if I can accomplish what I need to accomplish without bankruptcy, I’d be elated,” he said. “I can’t guarantee that [bankruptcy won't happen] in the least, in fact, to a large degree that’s going to be dependent upon the positions of a lot of other stakeholders that they have in this, some of whom might prefer a court order to make them do the things they need to do.”
Listen to more of what Orr had to say about Detroit’s finances: