Detroit gives state powers to help rescue finances

By Tim Martin

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Bing will hire a chief financial officer to supervise finance and budget activities. That person will be selected from a list of candidates agreed to by Bing and Treasurer Andy Dillon.

Still, it likely will be a matter of years before the changes to Detroit's financial and operational structure show results, Dillon said Wednesday.

Up until the weekend, first-term Councilman Andre Spivey had been leaning toward voting in favor of the measure. On Wednesday, he voted against it.

"There is no financial support attached," he said after the vote. "We won't know six to nine months to a year (how it will work) ... but it's here now and we must work with it."

Council members last Thursday discussed Snyder's proposal and spent the weekend reviewing it. Some blasted a portion of the document that tossed out concessions on pay, health benefits and pensions recently reached between Bing and city unions.

Snyder has said those concessions don't go far enough help solve the city's fiscal challenges.

The agreement calls for the mayor to not "execute" and the council to "not approve" any changes to current collective bargaining agreements.

Bing had used the threat of an emergency manager to get the unions to come to the table. Under the law, an emergency manager would have the authority to rip up and renegotiate union contracts.

"We asked the unions to come to the table ... the city turned our backs on them," Spivey said.

Those on the council, who appeared openly to support the agreement, were threatened with opposition at election time by a host of city workers and residents during public comment sessions during the meeting.

Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown told reporters after voting in favor of the deal that the agreement will help Detroit become a thriving city again.

"But make no mistake about it, the work begins today," he said. "Now we have oversight with real teeth that will insure that city services get reshaped."

However, some still believe they have been sold out by those they put in office.

"This vote was horrible. Who gives away control?" said Cecily McClellan, who works in the Detroit Human Services department. "This has been a steadfast dismantling of the city and this is the final straw."

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