Exclusive: Gov. Snyder plans to appoint emergency manager over Detroit after little progress

Gov. Rick Snyder plans to appoint an emergency manager over Detroit as early as next month because city officials have failed for a year to make meaningful reductions in the city’s cash-starved budget, city and Lansing sources told the Motor City Muckraker.

State officials have been meeting privately with Mayor Dave Bing’s administration and a few council members over the past month to discuss the future under a state financial takeover.

While details are not yet clear, state law gives an emergency manager the authority to sell city assets, bypass city council, impose new union contracts and privatize services.

Snyder has already appointed an emergency manager in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac and Allen Park, and in the Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights school districts.

Sources said Snyder plans to make the appointment in February or March.

Hopes of avoiding a similar appointment in Detroit were dashed after the city council and mayor couldn’t reach agreements on significant cuts.

In the year that Detroit learned it was careening toward bankruptcy and the state was threatening to take over finances, the city continued to burn through cash at an unprecedented clip. The deficit ballooned to $350 million, forcing thousands of layoffs, numerous service reductions and cuts to fire and police protection.

Many Detroiters are opposed to a state takeover because they say it’s anti-democratic; others worry an emergency manager would unilaterally decimate services and sell parks and other city treasures.

Protests are expected to follow Snyder’s announcement of an emergency manager.

Check back for updates.

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Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Living on the city’s east side, Neavling explores corruption, civil liberties and the underbelly of an oft-misunderstood city.    

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.