Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to deliver 3rd State of the City address

DETROIT (AP) - It's a critical time in Detroit as Mayor Dave Bing prepares to lay out his plans and highlight accomplishments in his third State of the City address.

What did Bing say last year? Here's the 2011 State of the City Speech:

http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/state/Copy_of_MIDetroit-MayorState-of-City_04308982

The annual speech — moved to the Erma L. Henderson Auditorium at City Hall from the Max M. Fisher Music Center to save money — will come as Bing, the City Council and leaders of Detroit's municipal unions seek answers to a fiscal crisis that eventually could result in Gov. Rick Snyder's appointment of an emergency manager.

Details of Wednesday evening's address were not released in advance, but Detroit's precarious financial situation may be the focus.

A preliminary review from the state showed a nearly $200 million general fund deficit for 2011. There also have been cash-flow concerns.

Bing scheduled 1,000 layoffs early this year to save $14 million in the 2012 fiscal year and $45 million the following year. Changes in work rules and 10-percent pay cuts to city employees, coupled with some city service cuts, also are expected to bite into the deficit.

But "the elephant in the room is the revenue," said Terry Conley, state and local partner with Grant Thornton, a Michigan-based international accounting and tax firm.

Detroit has struggled with declining property and business taxes with the flight of tens of thousands of residents and hundreds of companies from the city over the past few decades.

"What is he going cut? Another 2,000 jobs?" Conley said. "As the economy struggles, you have lower incomes being earned by individuals. That really puts stress on the budget."

Conley said Bing should consider lowering the tax rate and broadening Detroit's tax base to include a higher sales tax and increased withholding tax on people working in the city.

More people living and playing downtown would help, he added.

"He should really focus the city on basically creating attractions so that people will want to come downtown ... to come there and spend money," Conley said. "They often don't care about paying a little extra sales tax. "

To do that, Bing would have to convince people it's safe, which may be difficult in a city with one of the highest homicide and violent crime rates in the country. Federal authorities last week announced they would help bolster city police efforts to fight crime on Detroit's east side.

"To me, I don't like going and parking in a city parking facility and having to walk two blocks to (Joe Louis Arena)," Conley said. "I'd like to park in the same complex and see security guards."

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