As Gov. Rick Snyder waits for city leaders' rebuttal to a proposed consent agreement, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is keeping his own version of a proposal close to the chest. But he did give some insight into how he hopes to fix the city's finances on WDET's "The Craig Fahle Show" Monday morning.
Bing went on the program to discuss the proposed consent agreement between the city and state and his specific objections to some of the obligations put forward in Snyder's draft, which the mayor openly criticized last week.
Bing said proposed benchmarks for the city's financial stability would be set too high and could mean up to two decades of state oversight. Instead, he believes five to seven years is more realistic and desirable.
And he specifically wants to limit the power bestowed on a proposed nine-member Financial Advisory Board, which in the governor's proposal would have full control over city government decisions.
"I think we have to follow the democratic process with elected officials who were voted in," Bing said Monday. "You can't just take us out of the process."
The mayor and City Council members have started working on a counter-proposal for the agreement, as Bing continues to move forward with his own plans to cut the city's budget and stave off bankruptcy. His financial plans hinge on cutting the workforce and attempting to strengthen core services while looking for other agencies to pick up the responsibilities and costs of some departments.
"There are things we're doing that we don't do really well," Bing said of the city's workforce development, its Health Department, the public lighting system and the Department of Human Services.
After charges of mismanagement and corruption, the Department of Human Services is likely to be disbanded, despite Council objections, and have its funding transferred to outside agencies.
Bing has repeatedly talked about giving up the city lighting system, and a plan to transfer the Department of Public Lighting to a third-party operator already is underway. He expects to have an agreement with DTE Energy in around 30 days, he told Fahle.
"This is not to denigrate the public lighting department," Bing said, "but they are out of touch. A lot of the training, a lot of the technology has passed us by."
While eliminating departments will cut costs, it will also come at the detriment of city employees. Bing said he expects to reduce the workforce to about 7,000 people after restructuring is complete, down from 10,800 current employees. That would mean a staggering 35 percent drop for Detroit's largest employer. The city has already cut 2,000 employees since Bing came into office in 2009.
Bing also said Monday financial support from the state was fundamental to the city's success. But Snyder told Crain's Detroit Business that beyond loan restructuring, Michigan wouldn't offer financial support to Detroit in the form of loans or revenue-sharing.
Loan restructuring is expected to bring in $137 million for the city, but the mayor said any cash generated would only last through September.
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