Detroit mayor says the 2019 budget could lead to end of state oversight

Posted at 5:41 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 17:41:43-05

Mayor Mike Duggan shared with Detroit City Council a proposed $2 billion budget for next year that he believes is solid enough to end state financial oversight. 

Taking a look back, in 2013 Detroit had $18 billion id debt.  The city simply could not afford pay for basic services.  One example:  it took police about an hour to respond to priority one calls. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr filed for bankruptcy.  It was the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy ever. 

Since emerging from bankruptcy the state’s financial review commission closely watched the city’s finances.

“As you would expect we have a balanced budget,” said Mike Duggan, Detroit Mayor, as he presented the 2019 budget to city council. 

He said he expects the state to end oversight this spring if the budget is approved.  The financial review commission would still exist and review the city’s finances every year, but the city would no longer have to get state approval for big purchases. 

“That comes about because the city has had three years of balanced budgets,” said John Hill, Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer. 

Hill became CFO as the city was in the middle of bankruptcy and helped lead the city out of the mess. He says the city has put together a 4-year financial plan to make sure the city stays on the right track as debt payments come due in the next few years.  Turning the city around is rewarding, but not easy. 

“It has been a lot of work. there is no question.  A lot of late nights. It continues to be and probably will be for a while,” said Hill. 

Those long hours have helped lead to a budget surplus of more than $50 million dollars, and the ability to make improvements.

The mayor says with the proposed budget he aims to  tear down more dilapidated buildings,  invest in plans to improve neighborhoods, increase animal control staffing and expand police programs such as Project Green Light and Project Ceasefire.

“The one area where there is a significant increase in positions is the Detroit Police Department where we are proposing 141 more positions,” said Duggan.

To paint a picture of the improvement already achieved in public safety, look at police response times.  While, as mentioned, if you called 911 about a priority one incident  back in 2013 you could expect to wait almost an hour,  now the city says that response time is about 14 minutes.