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Detroit consent agreement: City officials try to get on the same page

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Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has sent City Council members proposed language for a consent agreement, as time ticks down for them to counter a state proposal that would avoid an emergency manager.

Bing says his proposal gives Detroit “The appropriate tools to address the City’s financial crisis, and preserve the rights of Detroiters to be governed by the City’s elected officials.” 

All of Detroit’s city leaders agree that they don’t like the state’s proposed consent agreement. But there’s still a lot of work to be done to get enough city leaders behind a unified counter-proposal this week.

“How many of us are even willing to do a consent agreement?” Council member James Tate asked during a committee meeting Monday. “That has to be discussed. And we haven’t done that.”

Both Bing and the City Council would have to sign off on a consent agreement. But it’s unclear how much the state is willing to negotiate.

The Council is expected to tackle the issue at their weekly formal session on Tuesday.

Even Council members who are open to a consent agreement have expressed some major misgivings with the state’s proposal. One is its lack of a sunset provision, meaning the city could be subject to the agreement’s provisions indefinitely.

Another is the state’s refusal, so far, to offer Detroit any cash to finance a major restructuring.

Detroit State Representative Fred Durhal told Council members that’s “unacceptable.”

“We know that you can’t have a surplus in the state, and we can’t have a city, the largest city in the state, starving to death,” Durhal said. “It’s not gonna fly.”

State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who leads the review team that will decide Detroit’s fate, scheduled their next meeting for this week to give city officials  more time to finalize their proposal.

But Dillon warns them that “time is of the essence.” The deadline for the review team to recommend a course of action to Governor Snyder is March 26th.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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