Monday, December 8, 2014

Detroit City Council passes resolution that opposes anti-Community Benefits Agreement bill

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Michigan State Capitol - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Michigan State Capitol

Detroit City Council today passed a resolution that opposes a bill introduced in the state Legislature to spike a long sought Community Benefits Agreement ordinance in the city.

CBAs are legally binding agreements that ensure specific benefits to a community — these often include jobs, housing, and other economic opportunity. 

The only city currently proposing such an ordinance is Detroit. It would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Currently, how the CBA would work in Detroit is like this: A developer who wants a public subsidy, say a tax credit or to purchase Detroit-owned property, would need to include benefits to the community. They would negotiate those benefits into a CBA, and the community is involved. If the development is 100 percent private, then they don't need to negotiate community benefits. They also don't need to involve the community if the value of the credit or property is less than $300,000.

The new bill, however, would prevent Detroit from enacting the CBA ordinance. Legal observers also suggested it would nullify any mayoral executive order in the city related to job requirements, calling into question a number of sweeteners related to some big-ticket projects in Detroit.

In essence, the bill — introduced by Earl Poleski, a Republican state representative of Jackson — would prevent Detroit from requiring to engage with, or specifically benefit, a community in order to obtain tax-supported development. Mayor Mike Duggan's office last week had no comment on the administration's stance. 

As expected, Detroit City Council came out opposed to the bill. The resolution passed in a 5-0 vote today says the bill would infringe on Detroit's ability under state statute to "make local laws." Councilmembers Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, Andre Spivey, and George Cushingberry Jr. were not in attendance.

The bill, introduced last week, received a mixed response from lawmakers and stakeholders in attendance of an initial committee meeting. It's expected to be taken up again tomorrow by the state House Committee on Michigan's Competitiveness at 8:30 a.m. You can watch the meeting here




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