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With a financial crisis approaching, Detroit City Council debates new plan

Bob Jagendorf

Detroit City Council is expected to debate a draft financial stability agreement with the state today starting at 4 p.m.

Ahead of the debate, Detroit Mayor Bing released a statement saying "this draft landmark agreement...was jointly developed by the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the State of Michigan."

“Today’s special session of the Detroit City Council to consider a resolution to approve a financial stability agreement represents a significant milestone in addressing the City’s financial crisis, decades in the making,” said Mayor Dave Bing. “It won’t get fixed overnight, but our partnership with the State will drive us as we remedy our financial crisis.”

An earlier proposal by the state brought charges of an attempted "state takeover" of the city.

Council members rejected it, saying the plan stripped them of their power and was the equivalent of appointing an emergency manager to run things.

Bing said in his statement the new agreement "preserves Charter and Executive and Legislative powers, including allowing the Mayor to hire his own executive staff, and outlines specific support from the State."

The Detroit News reports it's obtained a copy of the new agreement:

[The agreement] calls for union contracts to be rewritten under new terms after they expire June 30. They would be built off a single template for all unions, including police and fire. The contracts would call for: Creating a financial advisory board, advising the Mayor’s office and collaborating with the City to set yearly revenue targets; Requiring the City to adopt three-year budget; Creating a Project Implementation Office that reports to the Mayor and introduces a Project Manager to monitor and facilitate immediate project performance improvement; and Providing a collaborative, performance-based process, ensuring the commitment of legislative support to improve City services such as the Public Lighting Department, the Department of Transportation and income tax collection.

The new agreement comes shortly after a coalition of about 30 city unions gave concessions in their contracts, including pay cuts, health care reorganization, and switching from traditional pensions to defined-contribution retirement plans.

Ed McNeil, with AFSCME, told the Detroit News this new draft agreement "is going to make all employees of the city of Detroit at-will. It would devastate the people in having representation. Basically what (Gov. Rick) Snyder is saying is, 'It's time to bust unions.'"

The News reports the Bing administration will push for a vote today from city council, but "council members, however, have said they expect a vote as early as tomorrow or Monday."

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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