Detroit Consent Agreement Reviewed By City Council

Detroit City Council is set to review a proposal Tuesday from the state Treasurer's office that the governor says would help the city avoid an emergency manager.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday he favors a consent agreement for Detroit, which would grant more power to city officials -- most likely Mayor Dave Bing -- in exchange for meeting certain benchmarks set by the state.

"Let's have it so the city can keep running the city," Snyder said Monday morning.

A consent agreement would likely allow the executive branch even greater control over city finances. It would not allow the mayor to break contracts with city workers or vendors, but it would give him greater power at the bargaining table come June 30, when city unions' contracts expire. Bing has already extracted huge concessions from city unions in tentative agreements, but those deals have yet to be ratified by members.

An emergency manager, on the other hand, would have unilateral power to dismiss elected officials -- including the mayor and City Council -- and break contracts at will.

Bing has said he wants to avoid that possibility, and Snyder has echoed the mayor but refused to rule out an emergency manager entirely.

The state-appointed financial review team examining Detroit's finances should make a recommendation to the governor on what course to pursue before the end of the month. It's unclear what role the review team, recently rebuked by a circuit court judge for holding private meetings, played in developing the draft consent agreement.

It's possible that if City Council and Bing accept Snyder's proposed consent agreement, the governor would forgo an emergency manager. But critics say the draft proposal will not appeal to city officials.

The Detroit News reports the state's version of the consent agreement would exclude City Council members from the governing process, as well as privatize city services and bring even more budget cuts.

Some City Council members, including Pro Tem Gary Brown and Ken Cockrel, Jr., have said they support the idea of a consent agreement. However, Cockrel told WDIV Monday, "I think the approach from the Council will probably be thanks, but no thanks."

The agreement reportedly does not offer additional state funding for Detroit, something both Bing and some City Council members have insisted is necessary to keep the city functioning.

The state of Michigan owes Detroit as much as $220 million under a past revenue-sharing agreement, but Snyder has avoided any talk of the state assisting Detroit with cash. Bing estimated last week the city could use up to $150 million in loans from the state to keep afloat.

Detroit City Council meets at 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the draft consent agreement. This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.