Citing runaway deficits and long-term debts Detroit could never repay on its own, Gov. Rick Snyder today pulled the trigger and announced he will appoint an emergency financial manager for the state’s largest city. Snyder said he has a top candidate in mind, and that person would be in charge for 18 months.
The decision means Motown will soon have someone new in charge of restructuring Detroit’s dire financial mess. That restructuring likely will include drastic cuts in public services and a top-down rethinking of the type of government a shrunken city with a dwindling tax base can afford.
In many ways, those questions have been nipping at Detroit for decades, but the issues came to a head over the last 18 months as increasingly dour economic forecasts found a city unable to address fundamental questions about its debt.
“I look at today as a sad day, a day I wish had never happened in the history of Detroit, but also a day of optimism and promise,” Snyder said.
He reiterated that Detroit, once among the most prosperous cities in the nation, “went from the top to the bottom over the last 50 years,” losing more than half its population.
Snyder told an invited audience for a broadcast discussion on his decision. The forum was moderated by Stephen Henderson and Nolan Finley, editorial page editors of the Free Press and the Detroit News, at Wayne State University.
Snyder said he will not name who the emergency manager will be right away.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he “did not favor” an emergency manager.
“The Governor has made his decision, and it was his decision alone to make,” Bing said in a statement. “While I respect it, I have said all along that I do not favor an Emergency Manager for the City of Detroit. I will look at the impact of the Governor’s decision as well as other options, to determine my next course of action.
“I don’t support the appointment of an EFM as it eliminates democratically elected leadership in our city,” said Brown, a former deputy police chief. “However, the question is does Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council as-a-body going forward have the will to abandon the privatization ordinance, alter the City Charter to address roadblocks, and support state legislation to change the pension board? In my view, as-a-body City Council is not willing to make these changes. The only alternative is for the governor to appoint an EFM who has the will to implement the necessary reforms.”