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Gary A. Brown Headshot

Mr. Mayor, Use City Council to Repair Detroit's Finances and Restructure City Government

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During the past 26 months, Detroit City Council has been more fiscally conservative than the Bing administration, when it comes to managing the City of Detroit's finances. We are reformers who have restored order and unity uncharacteristic of council bodies over the past decade.

City Council voted on deeper cuts to the budget; only to be altered by political gamesmanship. We have called for bold moves -- with a definable plan approved by City Council in a non-binding resolution -- designed to repair Detroit's finances by making appropriate revenue adjustments on the front end during this fiscal crisis. Weekly, we have urged contractors to join City employees who have made sacrifices by re-working their agreements as well.

I call on Mayor Dave Bing to use the reform-minded City Council members to his advantage. Partner with us to make the bold moves to fix Detroit's finances and restructure how city government operates.

The first year during this new City Council, I along my with my colleagues gave Mayor Bing the confidence that he needed time to make structural fiscal changes. These modifications were not made during the first year and we faced a ballooning deficit.

Last June I saw the clock ticking. Council members appointed a work group to recommend a responsible budget reduction plan. I proposed more than $100 million in cuts based on realistic revenue projections, supported by the Auditor General's independent report.

After much deliberation, the City Council work group settled on a $55 million budget reduction which council approved. After political threats to close parks and recreation centers by the Bing administration, public outcry forced the council to step back and approve a $25 million budget reduction. Since the fiscal facts remained the same, I voted against restoring the $30 million to the mayor's budget with the expectation of genuine realistic revenue (read my statement about this action).

Four months ago, Mayor Bing made public that there will be a cash shortfall by the end of April. I expected swift action and cooperation with Detroit City Council to use our leadership and fiscal abilities to address this situation. This has yet to occur.

As an elected official and a long-time Detroiter, I was disappointed that Mayor Bing did not speak to how much cash the City of Detroit has on hand and how his administration plans to approach it, during his State of the City address. I like most citizens wanted to hear how the mayor will implement a hard-nose crime fighting strategy and work with the State of Michigan to address Detroit's fiscal emergency.

I applaud the mayor for working with the unions, but the tentative agreements for city workers do not go far enough to make concessions that are in line with the current operating revenues of this city.

As stated many times, I support a consent agreement that gives the mayor and City Council additional powers and reasonable timelines with the State of Michigan to restructure our costs.

Without a consent agreement and Mayor Bing's invitation to partner with us, according to the City Charter as City Council we cannot initiate structural changes, we cannot negotiate contracts, and we cannot restructure departments. Detroiters elected City Council members too. I urge the mayor to use our reformer skills.

The business community is moving forward and that was evidenced during Mayor Bing's State of the City when he mentioned a number of corporations and entrepreneurs who have invested in our beloved Detroit. I believe the business community and most citizens would like the City to repair the finances now with an expectation of short-term pain in service delivery for a long-term benefit.

Mayor Bing and his administration cannot do this alone. We must all work together to bring the solutions that will repair Detroit's finances and restructure city government. I want this accomplished so my kids and grandkids and all Detroiters, current and future, may thrive.