Detroit mayor: 1,000 job cuts amid budget crisis

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2011 4:44 PM
Detroit mayor: 1,000 job cuts amid budget crisis

Detroit plans to cut 1,000 jobs by early next year to help deal with the city's budget crisis and avoid the possibility of a state-appointed emergency financial manager, Mayor Dave Bing announced Friday.

The mayor's office said that departments will identify their number of layoffs starting the week of Dec. 5 and layoff notices will be issued starting the week of Jan. 21. The administration said the cuts, which represent 9 percent of the city's workforce of about 11,000 employees, will save about $14 million this fiscal year.

"Solving our cash crisis requires a combination of concessions and tough cuts," Bing said. "Layoffs will be strategic. We will limit the impact on residents, protecting core services like police and fire protection as much as we can.

"Our fiscal crisis will require everyone to share in the sacrifice. We need support from our residents to help push our unions, businesses, vendors and elected officials to enact the common-sense changes we need."

Al Garrett, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 in Michigan, said unions haven't been notified so he doesn't yet know who it will affect. But he doesn't think the layoffs are good for the residents or the 3,500 city workers AFSCME represents.

"We understand there is a fiscal crisis," he said. "We want to work with the city of Detroit to the extent we can, but to lay off at the same time they're asking for these Draconian cuts is not helpful at all. ... Laying people off means further reductions in services."

On Wednesday, Bing said in a TV and radio address that the city faces a $45 million cash shortfall by the end of its fiscal year in June.

The mayor said the positions will be eliminated by Feb. 25. He said additional 2,000 positions have been eliminated since he took office in 2009. And he has outlined concessions needed from unions representing municipal employees, such as taking a 10 percent wage cut and making pension reforms, to save $40 million.

Bing also ordered an immediate hiring freeze for all civil service positions except the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. He said the department was exempted because of court orders involving its operation.

Despite the financial crisis, Kirk Lewis, Bing's chief of staff, said the mayor does not plan to seek a state review of the city's finances. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Wednesday after Bing's address that the state anticipated a request for the review, which is a step in the process that could lead to an appointment of an emergency financial manager by the state.

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Snyder said Friday he appreciated that Bing laid bare the city's financial situation, which the governor called "severe." Snyder said he has "no desire to see an emergency manager in Detroit," but conversations continue between the city and state over financial matters including whether a state review should take place.

Garrett said his union doesn't favor the review or the appointment of a financial manager. He would like to see the state consider helping Detroit and other struggling cities by distributing what could amount to at least $285 million _ more money in taxes and fees than was previously expected in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

The numbers aren't final, and there's no guarantee state fiscal analysts will decide there's any extra money. Still, if a surplus comes to pass, Garrett said it should not be kept in a rainy-day fund.

"They should acknowledge that it's raining all over the state, and we're in a hurricane in the city of Detroit," Garrett said.