A state report came out earlier this month placing Detroit in financial crisis. The report suggested that an emergency manager may be needed for Michigan's financially beleaguered largest city. In response to that report, the Detroit Branch NAACP spoke out against state takeover, says the Detroit Free Press.
Financial Problems in Detroit
Due to ongoing financial problems, Detroit entered into consent agreement with the state of Michigan in April 2012. Last week, a review team headed by Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon released a report that showed that currently, the city has a budget deficit of $327 million and may be unable to pay its workers or other bills. Detroit has been operating in deficit since 2005, taking out large, long-term loans and using them as revenue. Without borrowing, the city faced $900 million in deficits, says the Associated Press. Detroit's liabilities top $14 billion. The city has missed key deadlines and objectives outlined in last year's consent agreement.
Emergency Management Impacts
In an effort to stave off municipal bankruptcy, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder may appoint an emergency manager for Detroit. He has 30 days from the release of the report on February 19 to decide. Some Detroit City Council members favor state takeover, saying the city can't manage obligations alone. The emergency manager would oversee all city spending. He could stop borrowing, freeze spending, sell city assets, and even void current contracts. The mayor and council would retain their positions, but the manager would call the shots up to and including the decision to file bankruptcy.
NAACP Emergency Management Concerns"We do not need an emergency manager here -- Detroit needs individuals who can manage its emergency." That's how Rev. Wendell Anthony, NAACP Detroit chapter president, summed up the situation. Speaking from the group's New Center location, Anthony called on the state to partner with Detroit, not oversee it, says the Detroit Free Press. He pointed out that though the United States is now $16 trillion in debt, and Michigan itself has face huge cash shortages, no one has suggested bypassing voter rights to resolve those financial issues.
Fox 2 News says that although the state promised to involve the elected City Council, members aren't sure what real part they will play. Anthony questioned how an emergency manager could effect change in Detroit independent of existing city government. He posed the dilemma of whether the state of Michigan, with its own financial issues, would be able to address other needs in Detroit. Anthony suggested that should the governor appoint an emergency manager, the state would then be responsible for creating employment opportunities, restoring public safety and services, improving education, and other concerns in the city. Anthony also reminded listeners that Michigan voters repealed Public Act 4, the emergency manager law, in November.
A native of Michigan, Marilisa Sachteleben writes about people, places, and issues in her state's most pivotal city of Detroit.
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