Upbeat Snyder touts deal on city finances

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With the Detroit City Council’s 5-4 approval of a “financial stability agreement” with the state on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder told reporters today that it is time to focus on the positive aspects of the deal.

Flanked by state Treasurer Andy Dillon and Harvey Hollins III, director of the state’s Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, Snyder appeared upbeat and relaxed as he answered questions about the newly struck deal intended to put Detroit on a sound financial footing without having to impose an emergency manager.

Among other things, Snyder emphasized that he sees the state as a “supporting partner” in the city’s hoped-for turnaround. The goal, said Snyder, is to have a recovery that is supported by what he called “three pillars”: financial stability, better services and a growing city.

Treasurer Dillon echoed Snyder, saying that the purpose of the nine-member “advisory board” is to offer “good, smart people” the city can “call for help.”

Snyder will appoint three board members and Dillon one. Mayor Dave Bing will appoint two people to the board, as will the Detroit City Council. One member will be appointed jointly by the mayor and governor, subject to council approval.

Snyder breezed past questions of what happens if the city fails to balance its budget or otherwise fails to live up to  the terms of the agreement, saying that the “goal is to have things work.”

In a city decimated by population loss, revenue decreases and cuts in services, more belt-tightening is inevitable, said Dillon, telling reporters that there will have to be yet more cuts.

Snyder quickly followed that observation with the equivalent of a smiley face, saying that spending reductions don’t necessarily have to come at the expense of services. He indicated that one of the roles of the advisory committee will be to help the city to function more efficiently. The governor pointed out that 65 full-time employees are needed just to handle the Detroit Police Department’s payroll.

In addition to the advisory committee, the agreement also requires that Bing appoint a chief financial officer (from a list of three people agreed to by the mayor and  state treasurer) and a program management director, who will be responsible to for making sure agreed-to reforms are implemented.

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