Show Me The Money! Michigan Approves Bill To Give $195M To Bankrupt Detroit
Detroit just got a little boost out of the financial doldrums of its tremendous municipal bankruptcy. Michigan’s governor just authorized a package of bills that will give almost $200 million to the city.
In a symbolic gesture, GOP Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill on Friday at Detroit’s Globe Trading Co. building, a 122-year-old building that was formerly an auto manufacturing facility and foundry.
“The Globe building is a great representation of the comeback of Detroit,” Snyder said. “It’s a 100-year-old-plus building that was essentially vacant in the last 20 years. It was one of the key industrial buildings in Detroit for decades. It’s been vacant and now it’s coming back.”
The building was to be demolished under a plan to relocate all three casinos in Detroit along the riverfront, but when that plan died the building fell into disrepair. Finally, the state put $12.8 million to transform the building into a recreation center for the 10-year-old, 31-acre William G. Milliken State Park along the river.
The bill signed by Snyder will give Detroit $194.5 million–but with strings attached. “A nine-member commission will oversee the city’s finances, budgets and contracts for at least 13 years and set the level of contributions made to city employees’ retirement and health care plans,” reports USA Today.
These funds will be combined with $370 million pledged from charitable foundations and $100 million from the Detroit Institute of Arts.
But retirees must agree to the city’s plan of adjustment and Snyder urged them to do just that “because it’s in their best interest, along with the city and state. So far, the voting is working in a positive fashion.” Retirees have until July 11 to give their vote.
Already, trustees of Detroit’s pension fund for police and firefighters agreed and called for retirees and workers to do the same as the money from the state, museum and foundations will disappear if retirees vote against the plan of adjustment.
On a more local political level, Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan is working to stem the tide of Detroit dwellers who are leaving for greener pastures. The city, which is one of the 20 biggest in this country, has seen a population decline from 1.85 million in 1950 to 688,000 today. Mayor Duggan aims to bring back services lost to the financial turmoil, demolish rundown buildings and sell empty homes that are next to current residents. With the city’s financial fortunes still being hashed out, there are many obstacles to overcome. But already, there are signs that Detroit might be preparing for a big turnaround.