Gov. Rick Snyder approved plans for the city of Detroit to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on Thursday, calling it the "only reasonable alternative" for the cash-strapped city to survive.

In a letter addressed to Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, and Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon, Snyder argued that the bankruptcy -- the largest ever for an American city -- was an ultimately inevitable "last resort."

Just last January, however, Snyder told The Huffington Post in an interview that he felt Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy was not efficient enough to address Detroit's issues in a timely fashion. "The track record, so far, has been pretty dismal," he said. "And the associating stigma of what it does, trying to get people to go there in the interim, is even worse."

But Thursday, Snyder cited dismal city services, like low crime clearance rates and long police response times, to explain why he had changed his mind.

"We have a great city," he said during a press call Thursday evening, "but a city that's been going downhill for the last 60 years."

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  • The Caesars Windsor Casino stands in contrast to an abandoned warehouse in Detroit. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

  • A tree stump sits among the ruins of the Packard Automotive Plant, a 35 acre site where luxury cars were manufactured until the 1950s on May 2, 2013 in Detroit. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

  • Graffiti covers an abandoned building February 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

  • In a photo shot on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, a dog looks out from behind a wall in an abandoned home in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • Abandoned houses are painted orange as part of Object Orange: Detroit, Disneyland, Demolition, are located off of the Davison Freeway service drive in Highland Park, Michigan on Thursday, May 18, 2006. (Photo by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

  • Residents that live in Detroit's east end came out of their homes to watch the third abandoned building fire of the day at the corner of Frederick and Chene. (Photo by Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • In a July 31, 2012 photo, a boat is dumped in a field in east Detroit. Abandoned lots, alleys and neglected parks in Detroit used to be a favorite destination for discarded tires and trash. But over the past few months they have become dumping grounds for the dead. At least seven bodies have been found in some of the most desolated haunts in a half-empty city. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • A City of Detroit fire station that was recently closed is seen February 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

  • Part of the Brewster-Douglass housing project site is shown in Detroit, Friday, March 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

  • The abandoned Detroit Public Schools book depository

  • Detail of unused books left to rot at the abandoned Detroit Public Schools book depository.

  • The view from the inside of the abandoned Fisher Body Plant in Detroit.

  • Graffiti covers a crumbling building February 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

  • The General Motors (GM) world headquarters is seen February 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

  • Detroit firefighters arrived on the scene of an abandoned dwelling fire at 2645/51 Frederick Street in Detroit's east end. (Photo by Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • A sign advertising building rates is seen on an abandoned building on February 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

  • An abandoned boat filled with trash sits on Conant Street in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday, April 9, 2006. Detroit eliminated bulk trash pick up three months ago due to budget cuts. (Photo by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

  • A man walks past an abandoned house that is painted orange as part of Object Orange: Detroit, Disneyland, Demolition, located off of the Davison Freeway service drive in Highland Park, Michigan on Thursday, May 18, 2006. (Photo by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

  • Barbed wire blocks the entrance of the abandoned Michigan Central Station on May 2, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. The station was opened in 1913, closed in 1988, and has fallen into disrepair since. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

  • Steam rises from a manhole at dawn among abandoned buildings and factories along East Warren Avenue on May 2, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

  • A man walks past the abandoned East Grand Boulevard Methodist Chruch on May 2, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

  • Two abandoned apartment buildings burn on Waverly Street in the declining Detroit enclave of Highland Park. Last year the Detroit Fire Department received 27,000 calls. (Photo by Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Michigan Central Stationis Detroit's most famous ruin, with the train station last open in 1988. Designed by the same architects as New York's Grand Central Station.

  • An interior shot of the massive Michigan Central Station.

  • A worker measures the former Detroit Fire Department Ladder No. 10 firehouse on Mt. Elliott in Detroit, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. Detroit plans to sell seven unused firehouses and a renovated but long-vacant police facility that once housed horses as part of an effort to raise money and encourage redevelopment. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

  • A July 31, 2012 photo shows a memorial to two killed teens whose decomposing bodies were found July 27 in a field in east Detroit. Abandoned lots, alleys and neglected parks in Detroit used to be a favorite destination for discarded tires and trash. But over the past few months they have become dumping grounds for the dead. At least seven bodies have been found in some of the most desolated haunts in a half-empty city. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • This Oct. 24, 2012 file photo shows a graffiti-marked abandoned home north of downtown Detroit, in background. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

  • Graffiti covers an abandoned building at the former Belle Isle Safari Zoo February 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

  • In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo, pedestrians walk by the abandoned Packard plant in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

  • Members of the Detroit Fire Department exit after putting out a fire in an abandoned house in Detroit on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

  • Shuttered Packard motor car company plant in Detroit.

  • In this Oct. 24, 2012, photo, a broken streetlight lies on a sidewalk east of downtown Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • The abandoned Harbor Light Center, in Detroit, Michigan on July 21, 2012. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

  • The abandoned Hotel Eddystone, in Detroit, Michigan on July 21, 2012. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

  • An abandoned home is seen on February 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

  • The abandoned First Unitarian Church, in Detroit, Michigan on July 21, 2012. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

  • The abandoned Detroit Public Schools book depository.

  • The back of an abandoned building facing, in Detroit, Michigan on July 21, 2012. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

  • Abandoned Detroit Central Depot shot from street.

  • This Oct. 24, 2012, photo shows a broken streetlight base on a sidewalk east of downtown Detroit. When the World Series was broadcast that week, television viewers saw vibrant crowds and skyline shots of the city. Yet beyond the hot dogs and home runs, Detroit is struggling to cross home plate. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • The General Motors world headquarters building is shown near an abandoned building March 30, 2009 in Detroit. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

  • Exterior of abandoned house in Detroit, a familiar sight in many neighborhoods.

  • Detroit Abandoned Buildings

    The back of the abandoned Michigan Central Station on May 1, 2013 in Detroit. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

  • An abandoned home in Detroit.

  • An abandoned building in Detroit.

  • In a July 31, 2012 photo, a trashed strewn street is seen in east Detroit. Abandoned lots, alleys and neglected parks in Detroit used to be a favorite destination for discarded tires and trash. But over the past few months they have become dumping grounds for the dead. At least seven bodies have been found in some of the most desolated haunts in a half-empty city. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • Graffiti decorates the ruins of the Packard Automotive Plant, a 35 acre site where luxury cars were manufactured until the 1950s on May 2, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Sitting on the East side of Detroit, the former automotive plant is now a site for scavengers, urban explorers and graffiti artists. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

  • The abandoned Fisher Body Plant.

  • The Fisher Body Plant in Detroit, which is abandoned.

  • Part of the Brewster-Douglass housing project site is shown in Detroit, Friday, March 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

  • Aerial photograph of the Michigan Central Station's Beaux-Arts facade in Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit currently has a structural deficit of more than $18 billion, and has come close to running out of cash multiple times over the past 24 months. Legacy costs paid to pensions and health care and debt obligations currently account for 38 cents of every dollar that Detroit takes in. By 2017, Gov. Snyder argued, that number could rise to 65 cents of every dollar.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr was appointed by Gov. Snyder to create a restructuring plan that could bring the destitute city back to financial stability. But Orr's background as a bankruptcy attorney with the Jones Day law firm let many to speculate that he would recommend the city file Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy law for struggling municipalities and cities. Snyder said Orr requested that he approve a bankruptcy filing for the city Tuesday evening. Orr says he hopes to move the city through bankruptcy proceedings by early fall 2014, between 12 and 14 months from today's filing.

On Wednesday, both of Detroit's pension funds sued the governor and Orr, hoping to block drastic cuts to pensions benefits. The lawsuit argues that those benefits are protected under Michigan's constitution, but Snyder has indicated he believes a federal ruling in bankruptcy court would overrule this stipulation. Snyder told reporters that Wednesday's lawsuit hastened Detroit's bankruptcy filing by mere days, but did not influence his overall decision.

Thursday's filing in federal court also won't guarantee bankruptcy proceedings. A federal judge will now have one to three months to determine whether Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 protection. If so, that judge will decide which creditors and unions will be able compete in court for pennies of the city's few remaining dollars.

It's possible that masterpieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection, buildings or even classic cars owned by the Detroit Historical Society could all be sold to help pay off the city's creditors, although, so far, officials have denied plans to auction off Detroit's prize assets.

Snyder also blasted decades of Detroit leadership in the letter, arguing that government "cannot meet the basic obligations of its citizens."

"This decision comes in the wake of 60 years of decline for the City, a period in which reality was often ignored," he wrote.

While the city has declined, services to citizens have deteriorated to a point that Snyder declared unacceptable. The city's clearance for solving crimes hovers around 8%. Almost half of the streets are dark at night, due to an outdated and unmaintained streetlight system. It can take more than an hour for police officers or ambulances to come. Almost 80,000 abandoned structures drive down property values and are targets for scrappers, vandalism and arson. Despite pockets of growth, new residents and adventurous entrepreneurs, the majority of the city has suffered steady disinvestment to a level that would surprise most residents of any other American city.

"Many people may say this is a low point in Detroit's history -- but without this action, Detroit will only going to continue to go downhill," Snyder claimed.

But he emphasized that tomorrow would be business as usual in the Motor City -- whatever passes for ordinary, that is, in a city where residents cannot confidently depend on local governance, public safety, working ambulances or even streetlights in their daily lives.

"Enough is enough with the downward spiral in Detroit," Snyder declared. "Let's move forward and upward."