Detroit could run out of cash in a week if a lawsuit challenging an agreement with the state to fix the city's finances isn't dropped, the city's new chief financial officer said Friday, raising concerns of a full-fledged takeover by the state.
Finance chief Jack Martin offered his assessment a day after the state treasurer's office told city officials Detroit is at risk of losing $80 million in revenue sharing because of the lawsuit. He said the city will be broke by June 15. He said the city should be able to may payroll for employees, but it will be operating under a deficit.
Mayor Dave Bing, who wants the lawsuit withdrawn, told reporters Friday that the agreement with the state could be violated if the city runs out of money.
"It's an emergency," Bing said. "It is a crisis and we've been in a crisis for a long time. This just ups the ante more than anything else. And I think, from a leadership standpoint, it's incumbent upon us as leaders to deal with this expeditiously, which means ASAP."
Bing planned to meet Friday morning with City Council to discuss the situation, but that meeting was pushed back to Monday.
Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon last week filed a lawsuit with the Court of Claims in Lansing asking that the consent agreement be overturned. The suit claims the state already owes Detroit $224 million in past revenue sharing and that Michigan law prevents the city and state cannot from entering into a consent agreement if one of them owes the other money.
Snyder has said the state doesn't owe Detroit any money. The state wants Bing to compel Crittendon to drop the lawsuit.
Bing said in a statement Friday that he has urged Crittendon to withdraw the lawsuit but that the city charter gives her "the independent right to take whatever action she deems reasonable," including judicial action, if she thinks the charter has been violated.
Martin said at least $35 million of the $80 million has been withdrawn from the city's escrow account. A bond sale was approved earlier this year by the City Council with just over $80 million in interim financing backed by state revenue sharing due Detroit.
The bond sale is not part of the consent agreement, Treasury spokesman Caleb Buhs said Thursday, but the city's failure to meet its obligations to the sale could lead to it losing revenue sharing. Without the millions of dollars from the state, Detroit would find it difficult to meet payroll and other bills. Any further slippage in the city's already poor financial standing could lead the state to reconsider the effectiveness of the consent agreement.
Bing, the City Council and Gov. Rick Snyder approved the agreement in April that would allow the state's involvement in correcting an accumulated budget deficit of more than $200 million and billions of dollars in structural debt. In return, Snyder agreed not to hand the city's finances over to an emergency manager.