Detroit Mayor Dave Bing: State likely will withhold revenue sharing

By Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: Jun 12 2012 07:35:15 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2012 01:27:56 PM EDT

The clock ticks down until the city of Detroit runs out of cash! That's unless a lawsuit against the State of Michigan is dropped.

DETROIT -

The clock ticks down until the city of Detroit runs out of cash. That's unless a lawsuit against the state of Michigan is dropped.

The city's top lawyer is meeting with the city council either late today or early tomorrow.

The pressure is building on the city's corporation counsel to reconsider her lawsuit or request for clarification about the legality of the consent decree from Judge William Collette in Lansing.

READ:Detroit lawsuit against Michigan Department of Treasury     

"Once we ran out of money there is no way we can run the city and that's the risk that we're up against," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

Bing, making the blunt and dire case, says although he doesn't want corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon fired, her position is leading to crisis.

Crittendon, using her new found powers as protector of the city charter is (depending on your perspective) either making certain Detroit's charter is followed to the letter or gumming up the works.

Crittendon will meet with City Council behind closed doors at some point as the pressure mounts for her to back down.

The governor's office told Local 4 it will not back down. If Crittendon's lawsuit isn't dropped, the state will withhold roughly $80 million state revenue sharing money to repay the debt the city's racked up in its march to insolvency. 

WATCH:Who is Krystal Crittendon?

Bing said, “You can't force or make them do something at this point you talk about negotiations were going that, we're doing that, but they have the hammer right now  - they've got the money!"

Detroit unions upset over lack of negotiation

Some Detroit union leaders accuse Bing and the city of backing them into a corner by refusing to negotiate new collective bargaining deals with less than a month before some of the contracts expire.

Union strategy sessions continue to focus on what could be a June 30 contract showdown.

"We looked at this back in December. We kind of expected things to go south," said Joseph Duncan, Detroit Police Officers Association president. "It's my impression they are going to try to impose a contract on us."

Duncan said his and other unions haven't bargained with the city since earlier this spring when the unions agreed to pension, benefits and work rule changes. The tentative agreements were intended to help the city stave off any attempt by the state to appoint an emergency manager.

Part of the consent agreement calls for the city to have either negotiated or imposed new labor deals by July 16 for contracts expiring this summer.

"People are saying if (the city) goes to bring somebody in here to take their jobs that there is going to be hell to pay," said Ed McNeil, a spokesman for American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 25. "When you start to roll over people you are going to get a lot of push-back in this town, which I don't want to see."

City unions have not voted on whether they will strike, but a coalition of about 20 bargaining units has filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission alleging the city failed to execute the tentative agreements.

Mayor's signed budget calls for job cuts

Bing in May signed a council-approved budget for the coming fiscal year that calls for cutting more than 2,500 jobs, while shaving $250 million in annual expenses.

The city's accumulated budget deficit is about $265 million. Long-term structural debt stands at $13.2 billion.

The tentative agreement with police would have saved the city more than $20 million and included a 3-year pay freeze, according to the police union.

The tentative deal between the city and about 20 civilian unions was to have created about $60 million in health care savings. But those and other savings didn't "appropriately address" Detroit's fiscal cash crisis, according to a review done in February by the council's fiscal analysis division.

None of the deals went into effect.

"The city is saying we didn't have an agreement because it was never approved by council," Duncan said. "The bottom line is the city needed our help to try not to get an emergency manager. We sat around the table and looked at each other, realizing the city was in trouble. We negotiated with the mayor. As soon as we got it done, they turned their backs on us."

McNeil said the unions contend there is an agreement.

"We have a deal, a 3-year agreement. We signed it. We shook hands," McNeil said. "We know we can't trust them at this point."

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