Minehaha Forman is a freelance writer living in Detroit. Born on a farm in Belize, Central America, she moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education and a career in writing. Forman’s work has been featured in many metro Detroit publications including Dbusiness magazine, Hour magazine and Corp! magazine. She has provided event coverage for Real Times Media and The Michigan Chronicle for three years, covering the popular Pancakes and Politics speaker series and other events. Prior to working with the Chronicle, Forman was a blogger with The American Independent News Network where she covered Metro Detroit politics and the 2008 presidential election. She will continue to provide commentary and coverage of Detroit politics as a blogger and feature writer for The Michigan Chronicle’s website.
Website URL: http://truthordarestories.blogspot.com/
Detroit Public Schools announced yesterday that it is selling 200 abandonded buildings and properties racked up from school closures. DPS teamed up with the Detroit Works project and other groups to help sell buildings and properties for repurposing. DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts called the reuse of the old schools "critically important” and urged businesses to buy the closed school buildings to help revive the economy in the city as well as generate revenue for DPS through property sales.
Roberts told potetnial buyers at a conference Wednesday: “School buildings last longer than most businesses. If you can find other uses for these facilities, it’s a great help to the community where they are located.”
The buildings may be good enough for businesses, but apparently not for schools. DPS will be building eight new "state of the art" schools with federal bond funds. Half of those will be built this year, DPS reports:
Detroit Public Schools will open four new schools in 2012 totaling $150 million of voter-approved investment that will provide some 4,500 students brand new learning environments that will replace older facilities.
Voters chose to support controversail Proposal S funding in 2009, bonds that will be re-paid by Detroit residents over the next 20 years:
Detroit Public Schools plans to build eight new schools and modernize 10 schools thanks to the passage of Proposal S, a bond referendum voters approved on Nov. 3 to take advantage of $500.5 million in stimulus dollars that President Barack Obama made available to build new schools and modernize existing schools. Under Proposal S, $246 million — nearly half of the bonds — will be re-paid at a 0% interest rate.
There is a lot of public resistance to Detroit's consent agrement, a move that would allow the state to appoint an outside board of experts to take over the city's finances. The agreement is just a shade away from the state appointing one emergancy financial manager (EFM) who would also control the cities finances, the difference is, an EFM would be taking away more than union jobs-- he or she would toss the power of elected officials as well.
According to Mayor Dave Big, the cash strapped city only has three options: accept the concent agreement, get slammed with an EFM, or file for bankruptcy. While none of these options are good, Bing and the majority of city council members believe the consent agrement is the better of three evils.
And while nayways abound, who has offered viable options that would save the city aside from a true financial collapse?
One idea comes from U.S. Congressman Hanson Clarke, (D-13), who believes the city is eligible for a federal bailout, much like the one provided to GM and Chrysler.
The Huffington Post reports:
"Clarke said he plans to seek emergency federal aid in Congress and from the Obama administration and may introduce legislation as early as next week. His plan is modeled after the federal bailout of New York City in 1975. 'It's the same situation that's just as grave,' Clarke told HuffPost. 'We need to provide relief for the city of Detroit in order to create jobs in this country and rescue this symbol of our manufacturing power.'"
How likely is a City of Detroit bailout in the heat of a presidential election year? Not very. But hey, it's worth a try.
Last week at the Michigan Chronicle's Pancakes and Politics speaker forum, Wayne County executive Robert Ficano said the county's budget was balanced, and even had a bit of surplus. "Wayne County is functioning very well," Ficano said last Friday morning.
But that's not true according to a report published in The Detroit News today. The article stated that Wayne County is actually facing a general fund deficit so steep, that county officials are looking to use grant money earmarked for other programs to stave back economic fallout.
The Detroit News' Steve Pardo reports:
"Under state law, counties with deficits need to submit five-year deficit reduction plans. Wayne County is the only county in the state submitting such a plan; it already qualifies for emergency manager status, meeting four of 18 triggers spelled out under state law," the report stated.
So which is it? Or can it be both?
Yes, it can. The whole picture shows that by certain measures, both statments are true. In the fiscal year of 2011, yes, Wayne County had balanced the budget and a surplus mostly income from a legal settlement between the County and the 3rd Circuit Court according to county CFO, Carla Sledge.
But that doesn't mean the county doesn't owe big time cash. The overall County deficit weighs in at around $154 million, according to Auditor General Willie Mayo. While that's not terrible news, (In 2010 the comprehensive budget defifict in Wayne County was $253 million) it's no light bill. And for Ficano to cliam that the the county is prospering is a bit of a stretch.
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