After four delays, The Detroit City Council on Tuesday voted 6-3 to strike Mayor Michael Duggan’s $250 million blight bond proposal from the March 2020 ballot.
The proposal planned to rid Detroit of about 19,000 blighted homes by mid-2025, in five years instead of 13 without requiring a tax increase, Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer David Massaron previously told The Center Square.
"I didn't hear any council member say it wasn't important to get blight out of our neighborhoods," Duggan told reporters. "What we need is a plan that the mayor and council can both agree on, and I'm committed to working with council members on that."
"Neither the mayor or the council is going to say to folks in the blighted neighborhoods: 'You just have to live with these abandoned houses and there's no hope.' We're not gonna do that,” Duggan continued.
Massaron previously said the mayor and city council improved Detroit’s credit rating so the city could borrow for improvements and restructure debt obligations for long-term health.
Council members Gabe Leland, Janee Ayers and Scott Benson voted to add the measure on the ballot but were outnumbered by “no” votes from President Brenda Jones, Pro Tem President Mary Sheffield, and members Andre Spivey, James Tate, Raquel Castaneda-Lopez and Roy McCalister Jr.
The Council has until 4 p.m. on Monday to move to reconsider the vote, which must be approved by Dec. 17 to be placed on the March 2020 ballot.
Detroit Auditor General Mark Lockridge's report on Friday found the city's demolition program has been mismanaged, citing missing invoices, receipts and other violations of city and state law.
"The reporting for city-funded demolitions lacks transparency, accuracy, and completeness," the report stated.
Jones cited in a statement her responsibility as “an accountable fiduciary of public dollars” and transparency concerns.
Jones called for “a complete overhaul” of the program.
“I wholeheartedly want to see the demolition of dangerous structures, but this must be reinforced with foreclosure assistance, home repair grants and other actions to strengthen, sustain and safeguard our neighborhoods.”
Council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield in a statement explained her vote against the proposal due to “past and ongoing problems with the demolition program, related to the lack of proper internal controls, inflated pricing, fraud, environmental issues, open holes and lack of employment opportunities” for Detroit residents.
Sheffield cited City Fiscal Analyst Irvin Corley testimony Monday that if the proposal didn’t pass, the debt mills in fiscal year 2021 would drop from 9 to 6 mills, saving Detroit homeowners about $60 per year in property taxes.
Wayne County’s Art Institute Authority voted to place a 0.2 mill proposal on the March 2020 ballot to fund the Detroit Institute of Art, which the Oakland and Macomb Counties’ Art Institute Authority will decide on Thursday and December 3, respectively.
Macomb County voters will also see a 10-year, 1.0 mill proposal increase for Macomb Intermediate School District in March 2020.