Deep revelations about the practices of city government have shed a light on a local government which has not had a positive year-end fund balance since 2004.
Here are four examples of areas, in the eyes of the review team, where the things could of been handled better.
A $936.8 million dollar bill
Detroit City Government has been running on the municipal version of a credit card. Instead of making structural changes, city government continually loaned money (at junk bond status) to pay every day bills. Detroit’s General Fund deficit was $327 million in 2012. However, if you factor in the money they loaned over the last few years, the fund deficit would stand at $936.8 million, according to state officials. By kicking the can down the proverbial road and not making changes, the city now owes that money, with interest.
Detroit Police Discrepancies
Previously reported numbers about restructuring in areas like the Detroit Police Department, where officials reported 85% are doing police work as patrolmen or investigators, were called into question.
State Treasurer Andy Dillon said during the financial review press conference that “The interim chief … said 85% of police officers are doing the police work whether as patrolman or investigations, and then you meet with some other folks that have a much different number. Maybe 1/3rd are actually on the streets, and 2/3rds behind a desk.”
An interesting fact shared was that 65 Detroit Police officers, when the review started, were doing payroll.
Water and Sewer Department
This one, in some ways, affects the whole region as water rates have been going up.
At today’s press conference, Dillon reflected on a recent report and contract offer that stated the department only needs 19% of the workforce it currently has due to work rule changes and technology. Dillon said that “if only half” of those savings could be realized, then that money could be used elsewhere.
$199 Million Owed Detroit
36th District Court, which is funded by the city of Detroit, according to review documents, has accounts receivable to the city of Detroit for $199 million in fines, fees, and other costs related to parking violations, civil infractions, traffic violations, drunk driving and other misdemeanor violations. The court’s collection rate is only 12% of its regional counterparts. A large portion of that outstanding amount has been due for seven years or more.
Detroit Police Officers, City Workers Underpaid
However, the news is not all bad for employees. Fixing the city on the backs of the worker’s wages isn’t in the cards.
“I would acknowledge that Detroit Police officers are underpaid. That is true of all city employees. Detroit employees are not overpaid, and I think you would not look at fixing the city by further cutting wages, that’s not the solution I see as necessary,” Dillon said.
SLIDESHOW: SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION TO DETROIT FISCAL CRISIS