News & Views » Columns

1 +1 = 3 in Detroit



It’s becoming frighteningly clear that on top of all the financial problems Detroit’s facing, it’s got another to contend with: A city administration that clearly doesn’t have a plan to deal with all the massive deficit holes opening beneath us like cracks in the earth.

For starters, we hear from city insiders who say all the cuts recently announced by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will fall substantially short of the $77 million he predicts the slashing will save. Problems in the plan include the fact that companies doing business with the city just aren’t going to reduce the amount they expect to get paid.

And even if the mayor’s announced cuts do add up to $77 million, that still leaves us about $15 million short of paying off the entire $93.8 million deficit left over from the 2003-04 fiscal year (and ignored at least since October), that the cuts are intended to address.

What’s that? You didn’t realize that the mayor’s big speech earlier this month was all about dealing with last year’s budget shortfall? Well, don’t feel bad. It’s just something the Kwamster didn’t bother to mention during the telecast.

As of this point, no one is even talking about how to deal with the $65 million deficit for this year. And then there’s next year’s budget, which will have to be cut by $230 million by July 1 if it’s going to be balanced — which, by law, it has to be.

In other words, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

All of which brings us to the main point of this particular News Hit — a document (developed by people who’ve worked for administrations dating back to Coleman Young and quietly slipped to the blabbermouths here at the Hits) listing what the authors describe as unnecessary or unusual city expenditures screaming to be axed.

The document suggests that Detroit could save $135 million on services typically controlled by regional governments in other places, and another $78 million if the city would cut services not traditionally provided by cities. Nearly $11 million more would be saved if the city closed down services usually handled by nonprofits.

For instance, the document says that next year the city will spend:

• $17.8 million on 36th District Court — usually a regionally funded operation.

• $2.8 million on the Detroit Historical Museum — not typically provided.

• $3.2 million for the Detroit Zoo, located in Royal Oak — come on!

• $2.75 million on the public information department — unnecessary.

• $600,000 on the cable commission — what do they do?

• $17 million on Cobo — major gong.

• $2.1 million on human rights “contract compliance.”

• $2.6 million on city airport — double gong.

• $420,000 on consumer advocacy — unnecessary.

• $1 million on senior citizen advocacy and information — unnecessary.

• $4.2 million on Personal Health Services — not typically provided.

• $11.7 million on clinical support services — not typically provided.

Hang on, folks. This is only starting to get interesting.

Send comments to [email protected]

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.