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Detroit Mayor Duggan unveils key budget priorities to City Council

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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan warned of a tight city budget on Friday but suggested more money for the city’s electoral bureau, police and recreation departments.

Duggan also provided more funding for affordable housing, eradication programs, and ensuring fair opportunities for Detroiters in marijuana entrepreneurship, he said when he proposed its budget for fiscal 2021-22 to the Detroit City Council.

In his detailed spending plan for $ 1.1 billion, Duggan emphasized that the city regained control of its local finances three years ago when it emerged from the tight supervision of the Financial Review Commission, which became a condition of the bankruptcy of Detroit had been set up. The total proposed budget for the city is $ 2.3 billion for the period 2021-22.

The mayor’s spending plan for fiscal year beginning July 1 comes after Detroit suffered more than $ 410 million in COVID-related revenue losses over a 16-month period.

“We cannot budget with hope,” Duggan told the council about the lost revenue the city suffered from COVID-19. “We have to budget for reality.”

Duggan took aggressive budget cuts last spring to avoid a $ 348 million shortfall from March 2020 through June this year. In the fall, the deepening economic downturn as COVID-19 cases spiked again resulted in additional losses of $ 62 million.

To better position the city, the mayor is proposing a one-time infusion to repay $ 50 million into the city’s rainy day fund, and an additional $ 30 million deposit will be added to the planned $ 55 million Added dollars in pension fund contributions.

“Everyone here remembers the pain our retirees went through after spending their careers in the city of Detroit and cutting their retirement pensions,” Duggan said. “We can never get our retirees into this situation again. We did not have as high a stock market performance as originally forecast, so we have to put more money into this fund to protect the retirees.”

Alderman Scott Benson said he was happy to hear about the $ 85 million proposed for Detroit pensions because investment returns are not as projected. “I don’t want to break this promise to our retirees,” he said.

Return to work

Between March and May last year, 65,000 Detroit residents – or roughly 10% of the city’s population – were unemployed during the pandemic.

The city relies on casino revenue to return to normal and more people to return to the city by the summer to improve income tax collection.

People who worked but did not live in the city and turned to remote working during the pandemic posted a loss of $ 23 million in the final quarter of 2020 and a projected loss of $ 84.9 million in 2021, said Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Budget Director Steven Watson.

On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, when the temperature is below zero, people will wait for their bus at the Rosa Parks Transit Station in downtown Detroit.

“We expect a significant income tax loss, especially from non-residents,” Watson told the council. “We anticipate the income tax of those who continue to work remotely will be permanently reduced by 10% … starting at $ 15.6 million in 2023. And that’s basically about half of our non-resident income taxpayers, in fact work from home only one day a week. “

Watson said there is a lot of uncertainty about what the workplace will be like and the administration is “watching the situation very closely”.

“Detroit should return to 2019 employment levels by around 2022,” Watson told the council. “The state won’t get back to employment until 2025. So the Detroit areas are really going to recover more slowly than payroll in Detroit in terms of jobs.”

Councilor Gabe Leland says he is “not so optimistic” that workers will return to work in person in the downtown offices.

“CEOs of large corporations have told me personally that they will never bring some of their full-time employees back to headquarters,” he said. “How confident do we have that our income tax system is set up to properly summarize the numbers for people who work for Detroit-based companies or companies outside of Detroit?”

Duggan said the city’s collection strategy had improved significantly and Detroit had “made significant assumptions about reducing these collections from working from home into that budget.”

Councilor Janeé Ayers said she hoped the legal department would be brought back first to “get back to the essential work they desperately need”.

Benson asked when the 1,000 employees on leave can expect to return to work

“I want to bring back all 1,000 people,” said Duggan. “And the reality will be this: the budget you have in front of you balances with the timeshare and vacations you have.”

Most of the increased spending on the general fund will come from employee pay increases scheduled for July 1, Duggan said. Last July, almost all employees had no choice and had to give up their raise. Duggan said he didn’t want her to miss another.

The mayor says if the revenue increases, it will bring people back in order from most essential to least important.

Last year, Duggan focused on pouring more money into raising police salaries, expanding animal controls, and making a one-time infusion into the city’s Rainy Day Fund and Retiree Pension Fund.

proposals

The mayor is proposing a 17% increase in the employee’s budget because “the way elections are held has changed dramatically,” Duggan said.

Due to the postponement of mail-in voting and “false claims and attacks” over the past year, the office needs more staff to handle the high volume, he said.

He also proposes a $ 1 million increase from the Detroit Police Department for a mental health initiative. The department began working with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network to help police officers respond to mentally ill residents. Duggan said the partnership is going well in two counties and that he would like to expand it to all counties.

Detroit Police Cmdr.  Melissa Gardner, right, checks in behavioral health specialist Tinetra Burns and Andrea Smith, director of staff training and program development, from left.  Behavioral medicine specialists will now work side by side with the dispatchers in the 911 call center of the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters in Detroit on February 2, 2021.

“There are a number of cases where a police officer does not have the necessary training to deal with existing behavioral problems or to spread them without resorting to law enforcement,” Duggan said. “We want to widen the mental health mental health professional response to all counties in the city to try.”

The budget includes a 2.5% pay increase for Detroit police officers, an additional $ 1 million to resume the police cadet program, and $ 500,000 for shot spotters, a weapon detection system, and forensic technicians. Duggan told council members he did not support cutting the police department’s budget.

The proposed budget is $ 3.5 million for repairs to housing subsidies and $ 3.3 million for the Affordable Housing Development and Maintenance Program to support down payments.

There’s also a more than $ 3 million increase in public transportation to improve services and fund more transit cops. People speaking during a public comment pleaded that bus fares should not resume on March 15.

An additional $ 10 million will be allocated to employee training and business support, including $ 3.5 million to Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program. $ 1.3 million for Homegrown Detroit support and staff; $ 3.1 million for training and work assistance at Detroit at Work; $ 2.5 million for the Motor City Match.

An additional $ 1 million will be allocated to the Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunities as the department reviews applications for its Legacy Detroit Ordinance next year.

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“Councilman (James) Tate and Council made a commitment that we will now fight in court, but I see our chances that 50% of those recreational marijuana businesses in the city will be owned by Detroiters,” said Duggan . “We’re putting in place a process where senior Detroiters are properly rated and given the first shot. The CRIO division is going to take a big boost.”

The mayor also highlighted $ 400,000 for doubling the Project Clean Slate wipe that provided attorneys to 600 returning citizens last year.

“In many cases, once they stopped answering the question of whether they had a criminal conviction, their income grew significantly and their income improved,” Duggan said. (The requirements) have been relaxed dramatically so that people have had two crimes, people are eligible for multiple offenses, meaning there are thousands of Detroiters with the potential to erase their records that they didn’t a year ago have done. You need lawyers because getting a deletion is a complicated thing. Hiring an attorney will cost you three or $ 4,000. “

There’s also $ 250,000 for Goal Line, afterschool transportation for Detroit students, and $ 210,000 for Earned Income Tax Credit support.

To fight the disease, the mayor is proposing $ 12 million for beautification, including $ 6.5 million for commercial corridors, murals, land bank lots and graffiti removal. There is also $ 5.4 million for the second year of the Alley Cleanup program, which aims to tackle 2,000 blocks in 2021 and clean 7,000 alleys over a three-year period.

More: Detroit City Council is reversing course on demolition contracts

Outside of the general fund, the public works department is proposing funding earmarked for 4,500-aisle humps and streets in the neighborhood across the city, Duggan said.

“The fast-paced traffic was a terrible risk for the kids in this community. The speed bumps have proven hugely popular and another 4,500 are in 3,700 locations, blocks across town. I think that’s a really good move,” said Duggan.

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Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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