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Detroit Consent Agreement Vote Could Come From City Council

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DETROIT CONSENT AGREEMENT
Mayor Dave Bing and City Council President Charles Pugh at the mayor's State of the City address. City Council could vote Monday on a consent agreement the mayor's office says it largely supports. | AP

Detroit City Council is set to discuss and possibly vote Monday on a financial consent agreement designed to restructure city governance and accounting with the input of the state.

A spokeswoman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Sunday said the governor is disappointed a vote hasn't come sooner. State Treasury staff and staff for Mayor Dave Bing and City Council have been negotiating an agreement for several weeks.

"We obviously would want the vote as soon as possible," Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher told the Detroit Free Press. "We wanted something last week."

Council on Thursday debated one draft, which Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said he found largely acceptable. Any agreement would have to be signed by Council, Mayor Bing and the 10 members of Detroit's state-appointed financial review team, as well as approved by Gov. Snyder.

Council members were disappointed with several aspects of the agreement, especially the lack of direct cash assistance from the state. Detroit is on track to run out of money to operate in May.

City Council's Research & Analysis Director David Whitaker noted the document puts many requirements in place for Detroit to balance its budget and provide services for residents, but does not fund its mandates.

"Given the fact the state hasn't come forward with that [money], this document is really going to require quite a bit of cuts in services and expectations," he said.

Council Member Saunteel Jenkins also lamented the lack of money coming from the state under the agreement.

"Nothing in this document says or does anything to keep us from not making payroll at some point because there is no infusion of resources," she said. "If the state wants us to enter into this agreement, we need something on the table."

State officials say they will offer legislative support for various revenue-raising measures. Treasury has yet to approve a $137 million bond package what would bring the city some cash.

If approved, the consent agreement would restructure city government while keeping elected officials in place. It would crate a nine-member financial advisory board with power to approve budgets and contracts as well as name a Project Manager tasked with carrying out changes to city government and services. It would also allow the city to re-open its labor contracts to push for more cuts, even though city unions recently ratified big concessions.

The governor says he has until Thursday to decide whether to appoint an emergency manager for Detroit.

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. -- City Council postponed a 1 p.m. vote on the agreement, with members saying they needed more time to review changes and absorb concerns raised by unions during discussions over tentative collective bargaining agreements.

UPDATE: 4:05 p.m. -- Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said he would bring a final resolution on the consent agreement to Council Tuesday morning.

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