Restructuring experts: Detroit City Council has a bloated budget, should be cut by two-thirds

Detroit City Council

Detroit’s city council, which is one of the most expensive and ridiculed in the country, would lose two-thirds of its staff-heavy budget under a proposal today by restructuring consultants hired to save the city from bankruptcy.

The plan would reduce the council members to part-time employees with less pay and no health and pension benefits. The council’s $11.2 million budget would shrink to $3.8 million.

The plan also would require the council to lay off many of its more than 75 employees.

Compared to similarly sized cities, Detroit is overly generous to its council members, who enjoy higher pay and more staff and perks, according to the consultants, Conway MacKenzie of Birmingham.

A Pew Charitable Trust study found that Detroit spent a larger portion of the city’s overall budget on its council than any other major city in 2011.

The council has more than 75 employees.

Council members, who are paid about $75,000 a year with full-time benefits and a city car, have been unusually quiet about the news.

Council President Charles Pugh has long resisted deep cuts, despite approving reductions to the police and fire departments.

Under the new emergency manager law, the council’s powers are largely symbolic.

Most of the authority belongs to state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who will decide whether to cut the council’s budget.

The nine-member council meets tomorrow at 10 a.m.

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Steve Neavling, who lives on the city’s east side, is an investigative journalist, a freelance reporter for Reuters and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Neavling explores corruption, Detroit’s unsung heroes 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.