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Detroit Consent Agreement Revisions Offer Small Changes, Overall Structure Remains

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/ 2/2012 3:28 pm Updated: 04/ 2/2012 5:05 pm

Detroit Consent Agreement
Audience members at a Detroit City Council meeting April 2, 2012, hold signs protesting a possible financial consent agreement between the city and state of Michigan.

The latest draft of a possible financial consent agreement between the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan includes some changes urged by City Council members.

Council met with Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis and Mike Mcgee, a consultant with Miller, Canfield Paddock and Stone PLC, Monday afternoon to review the revised draft. Council members on Thursday pushed back at many of the agreement's clauses, and it seems a handful of their objections paid off.

Both Lewis and McGee noted the overall substance of the agreement had not changed, but allowed for several tweaks. The agreement would still appoint a nine-member financial advisory board with the power to approve budgets and collective bargaining agreements and it would create a chief financial officer and project management director for the city. It would also abrogate the city's duty to bargain under the Public Employee Relations Act and would remain in effect even if Michigan's emergency manager law were repealed.

"We're comfortable with it as written," Lewis said of the new draft, but Council members weren't so sure.

The biggest win for Council members who strongly objected to the lack of direct financial assistance in the agreement: the state will split the cost of the financial advisory board members' salaries and expenses. The city will not finance the board beyond $1 million.

Council also won a victory on state support to instate residency requirements for city employees, firefighters and police, and to overturn a state requirement that Detroit lower its income taxes. Both of those measures, however, require a vote of the state legislature.

But what some Council members wanted most -- and some analysts say Detroit needs most -- is not included. The state will not give Detroit any cold, hard cash.

McGee noted any cash infusion would require an appropriation by the state legislature. He said the agreement was strengthened to require the state to provide any other financial assistance where possible. "It's leaving the question open, but we did not want to preclude possibility of other options," he said.

Council Member Saunteel Jenkins pushed back, asking why the state couldn't be required to push the legislature for more funding.

"I, too, think the state should be bringing money," she said. "Any legislation required for any cash infusion, the state agrees they will push that legislation or do as required to get that legislation."

Lewis said the city was unlikely to get full guarantees, but he felt confident Gov. Rick Snyder and Treasurer Andy Dillon agreed with the need for more money.

"I agree [to] just making it clear that the expectation is that we get resources," he said. "If it's not up front, it's got to be down the line, because we'll never be able to get the things done that are necessary without some additional resources."

Lewis said he would bring a final resolution on the consent agreement to Council for a vote Tuesday morning.

This is a developing story. Stick with HuffPost Detroit for updates.

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