By Steve Neavling
DETROIT, March 6 The Detroit City Council voted
on Wednesday to challenge Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's
declaration that the city faces a financial crisis and that the
state should consider appointing an emergency financial manager.
But Mayor Dave Bing said appointment of an emergency manager
is inevitable and he declined to join in the appeal.
"We need to end the drama and in-fighting and understand
that whether we like it or not, an emergency financial manager
is coming to Detroit," Bing said in a statement.
The council voted 7-1 to appeal Snyder's decision, and
Council President Charles Pugh said there may still be time to
change the governor's mind. The appeal would not be a court
challenge but would ask for a meeting with Snyder's
representative to try to change the state's position.
"The governor hasn't decided yet if he wants an emergency
manager, so there is still time to convince him we don't need
one," Pugh told Reuters. "I'm not saying our finances aren't in
trouble, but we can do this without an emergency manager."
The Republican governor on March 1 agreed with a report from
a review team he assembled to scour Detroit's finances that
concluded the city was in dire financial shape. He also said he
had identified a top candidate for the manager job.
The governor agrees with Bing but will review any new
information the council can provide and has scheduled a hearing
with the council and the state Treasury Department for March 12
in Lansing, said Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel.
The governor will make a decision on the appointment of an
emergency manager soon after the hearing, she said.
The birthplace of the U.S. automotive industry and Motown
music has suffered under a steep population decline that has
left the city with declining tax revenue, rising crime and a
costly and out-dated government structure.
The pronouncement of a financial emergency set up a 10-day
deadline that falls Monday for city officials to request a
hearing. In a March 1 letter to the city, Snyder said upon that
request, a hearing would be held next Tuesday before Michigan
Chief Deputy Treasurer Mary MacDowell.
Some Detroit City Council members have been advocating for a
new consent agreement to replace an April 2012 one that the
review team concluded was not working sufficiently to improve
the city's finances. But the hearing will be restricted to
whether or not the team had reasonable evidence to back up its
Information beyond the review team's scope or new actions
taken by the city since the review concluded "will be considered
beyond the scope of the hearing," the governor's letter said.
If the governor reaffirms a fiscal emergency for Detroit
after the hearing, city officials could seek to overturn that
determination in state court. However, the grounds for reversal
are narrow, based only on a lack of supporting evidence or if
the governor's decision is judged to be arbitrary or capricious.
Some Detroit City Council members have voiced support for a
court challenge, but such a move would not hold up the
appointment of a manager.
Bing said the city should spend its time working with the
state and the appointed manager.
"This decision does not mean that I am turning the keys to
our city over to the state ... or throwing in the towel. It is
simply a fight we cannot win at the 11th hour - in a 30-minute
appeals hearing," Bing said.