Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gave his seventh annual State of the City address Tuesday night in signature Duggan style—a whirlwind PowerPoint presentation that hit on his major accomplishments and goals.
The event was held at Flex-N-Gate, a relatively recent addition to a developing industrial park on Detroit’s east side. Duggan touted his administration’s success in drawing some large manufacturing employers back to the city, and vowed to make sure the resulting jobs go to Detroiters as much as possible.
Duggan also outlined a vision for how Detroit should handle the burgeoning marijuana industry. He said that since Detroiters voted overwhelmingly to approve recreational marijuana in 2018, they should be able to purchase it in the city.
But Duggan said only 10% of the city’s current licensed medical marijuana shops are owned by Detroit residents. He wants the city to make that 50% for all marijuana retailers going forward.
“An enormous amount of wealth is going to be created in the next few years. This is going to decide who has it for 10, and 20, and 30 years,” Duggan said. “If we are asleep in the passing out of these licenses for the next three years, that wealth will go to people outside the city.”
Detroit has temporarily opted out of recreational marijuana sales for now. A city ordinance regulating the industry is in the works.
Duggan also addressed the issue of historic over-taxation of many Detroit homeowners. For years, artificially high property assessments led to inflated property tax bills, during a period when thousands of people lost homes to tax foreclosure.
There have been growing calls for the city to make amends to those people. But Duggan said fully compensating them would be impossible, because those taxes already paid for a variety of public services.
“That money’s been spent,” Duggan said. “And they have no way of recovering it except to levy a huge property tax, which would just raise everybody’s property tax rates, and cause another round of foreclosures.”
Duggan did say he would “review all options” in terms of providing alternative compensation to homeowners. He also touted legislation, still working its way through the state Legislature, that would give homeowners struggling with delinquent property tax debt some relief.
Duggan also touted his administration’s sweeping and controversial demolition program, which has now taken down around 21,000 blighted properties, mostly using federal funds. Duggan had asked the Detroit City Council to approve a $250 million bond to finish demolishing another 17,000 homes, but the Council rejected it over concerns about cost and environmental controls with the demolition program.
Duggan made a plea to continue the effort.
“I know our speed of demolition has caused problems, and I haven’t done enough to deal with it. We need to fix it,” Duggan told the audience, which included all nine City Council members. “But we have to find a solution.”
Duggan said the city also planned to hire 400 more police officers over the next year.