DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit City Council has approved a plan that would allow a tri-county authority to take over the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Council members on Friday voted 7-2 in support of a deal, announced last week, that will create the Great Lakes Water Authority.

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Talking with WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas, Councilman Andre Spivey explained why he voted yes.

“Well, it’s the best deal we have right now,” Spivey said. “I’d rather do this then send in (Detroit Emergency) Kevyn Orr who can change the deal and privatize our water department; and his way at least we still own…we own the asset.”

Council woman Mary Sheffield said she voted no because, she said, the way the deal was being sold to the public was misleading when it comes to the $50 million a year the city is supposed to receive from the authority.

“Twenty (thousand dollars) of that $50,000, the city of Detroit is paying; $30,000 of which the suburbs are, but they’re currently paying that,
Sheffield said.

“There’s no new money coming into the system,” she said. “And I just have a problem with the misleading the public to believe that there’s a $50 million investment to this system.”

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Council woman Saunteel Jenkins countered, saying it’s more complicated than that.

“I don’t think that it’s deceptive,” Jenkins said, “but what I do believe is, like most complex deals, you have hundreds and hundreds of pages, you know, of details; and it’s always difficult to make sure that everybody gets all of the details.

The second council member to vote against the deal was Brenda Jones, saying the $50,000 lease over 40 years should have allowed adjustment for inflation.

Plan details:

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Also Friday, council members unanimously voted down a deal to transfer city-owned land to the Detroit Land Bank Authority.  Before the vote, Jenkins said she was upset that some of the land could go to people who moved out of the city and were looking to move back.

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