March 07, 2013
By COREY WILLIAMS | Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Mayor Dave Bing acknowledged Wednesday that an emergency manager will be appointed to oversee Detroit’s finances and said he won’t participate in the city’s appeal of a report criticizing local officials for their handling of the economic mess.
The City Council approved a resolution authorizing an appeal of Gov. Rick Snyder’s finding that an outside overseer is warranted because Detroit is in a financial emergency with no good plan to get out of it.
Bing, who had the option of either joining that appeal or filing his own, told reporters that he sees no way of avoiding an emergency manager, even though he opposes it.
“We need to end the drama and the infighting and understand that whether we like it or not, an emergency financial manager is coming to Detroit,” Bing said.
Under Michigan law, emergency managers have the power to develop financial plans, renegotiate labor contracts, revise and approve budgets to help control spending, sell off some city assets and suspend elected officials’ salaries.
Snyder said Friday he agrees with a state-appointed review team that spent two months delving into Detroit's finances. The city’s budget deficit is at $327 million. It also has long-term debt topping $14 billion and has had trouble in recent months making payroll and paying other bills.
He scheduled a hearing date for next Tuesday in case his decision was appealed. Chief Deputy Treasurer Mary MacDowell will preside over that hearing in Lansing as Snyder’s designee, spokesman Terry Stanton said.
“There is no statutory time frame for the governor to either confirm or revoke his determination that a financial emergency exists in Detroit,” Stanton wrote in an email to the Associated Press.
Bing said he met with Snyder this week in Lansing and concluded efforts to head off a manager will be fruitless.
The Republican governor said he already has a person in mind to take the emergency manager’s job if he decides Detroit needs one to get out of its fiscal mess.
“For me, I don’t mind fighting, but I’m not stupid,” Bing told The AP Wednesday morning. “If I know I’m going to get in a fight that I have no chance of winning, why in the hell should I get in that fight? I'm much better off walking away from that and fight another day.”
Council President Charles Pugh said he was holding out hope that Snyder may ultimately not appoint a manager and that city officials “are going to try every avenue that we can.”
Bing said he disputes portions of the review team’s report, namely the determination Detroit has no plan to deal with its financial emergency. Bing also said he questions if Detroit is responsible for budget problems in the city’s 36th District Court.
The court had $279 million in outstanding accounts receivables as of June 30, according to the review team report. Of that amount, an estimated $199 million is owed to the city.
Court officials, as of early this year, had taken no actions to reduce expenditures and had 350 workers while budgeted for 285, the review team said.
If Snyder does appoint a fiscal overseer, Bing said he intends to work “collaboratively” with that person instead of battling with Lansing.
“This city has a reputation of fighting, fighting, fighting and so we wind up fighting each other,” Bing told the AP. “And when we do that, the city loses.”