Detroit City Council to flip flop on budget – again – in last-minute effort to avoid bankruptcy

The drawn-out, unnerving game of chicken between Detroit City Council and Mayor Dave Bing may yield to reason in a last-minute attempt to avoid an imminent state takeover or bankruptcy.

After council members last month rejected a legal contract that would have won the release of bond proceeds from a state-controlled escrow account, a slim majority of council members now appear set to support the pact Wednesday morning.

That comes after Mayor Dave Bing’s administration said council’s rejection would result in massive layoffs and a drastic reduction in city services. A defiant council marched off to holiday recess, saying it would not back down.

And then came today, when council members scheduled a revote for Wednesday.

“Our fiscal analyst said, ‘Hold your nose and get this done,'” Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown said. “I think we need to get this behind us.”

This waffling has happened repeatedly over the past year. When the state urged the city to enter into a consent agreement to fix budget problems, council members said they would never approve such an undemocratic measure. A few months later, the council changed its mind on that and dozens of other budget issues, but only after drawn-out, theatrical clashes with the mayor’s administration.

Still, Councilman Andre Spivey, a pastor, insisted, “We are willing to work together. I think this body has shown a willingness to compromise.”

Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, in the meantime, continued his boycott of budget meetings.

The mayor plans to meet with council during a public meeting on Dec.
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11 to discuss the budget.

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.