Detroit’s poor financial shape has led Mayor Dave Bing to suggest drastic measures to save the city and stave off the appointment by the state of an administrator to run the city’s affairs.
Bing called for wage cuts for police and firefighters and an increase in the corporate tax. According to Bing, the city may be out of money by April.
“For decades the city has refused to face its fiscal reality,” Bing said at a press conference on Nov. 16. “We cannot continue to operate that way. Without change, the city could run out of cash by April with a potential cash short-fall of $45 million dollars by the end of the fiscal year.”
Bing suggested a 10 percent salary cut for police and fire employees, the same cut other city employees have already taken. The police and city cuts would save the city $13 million this fiscal year.
Bing has also gone to the city’s union leadership to ask them to accept a 10 percent increase in employee contributions to their health insurance as well as strategic layoffs, reduced overtime and pension reform.
Bing called on other city residents to do their part, asking businesses in Detroit to ante up next year.
“Effective Jan. 1, we will also implement a tax rate increase of less than 1 percent for corporations in Detroit,” said Bing. “If we are asking our unions and our contractors to sacrifice, it is basic fairness and common sense for the business community to contribute as well.”
Bing also targeted the city’s street lights, which he said have been neglected for far too long and require a $300 million investment for repairs. Bing said he has started negotiations with private utility companies to take over the maintenance of the lights.
If the city fails to improve its financial health, Michigan may appoint an emergency manager who would wield broad authority to reform Detroit.
“Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don’t want an emergency manager making decisions for my city,” Bing said. “I am your mayor and I want to continue to lead the city back.”