Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan makes budget pitch to City Council members

Detroit's financial position grows stronger for fifth straight year

DETROIT – Earlier this week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan laid out his vision for the city. On Thursday, residents learned how he plans to pay for it.

Duggan made his budget pitch to City Council members and showed why he's taking a cautious approach.

"We are in a good position again this year," Duggan said.

For the fifth year in a row, Detroit's financial position has grown stronger.

Detroit declared bankruptcy in July 2013, and most of the buildings beyond the Renaissance Center were all but vacant.

Now, most of the buildings are full, and more are being built.

On Thursday, Duggan dropped a budget that wasn't under state oversight for the first time since the bankruptcy.

The total budget is a hair shy of $2.5 billion, with the general fund just over $1 billion.

Revenue is up 3 percent to $34 million, which is impressive by Detroit's standards.

New labor contracts forced expenses to go higher, up to $35 million.

The city's workforce remains about the same as last year, just over 7,300.

The police budget grew by $10 million, with plans for an additional 70 officers, nearly half of them detectives.

Duggan believes the Detroit Department of Transportation needs 30 more people and the law department should expand by two.

The size of the rainy day fund is $45 million, or 10 percent of the total budget.

"Our goal is to be conservative now so when things turn down, we aren't cutting police officers or firefighters, and we're going to do that, and the reserve gives us that cushion," Duggan said. "I think we're all going to be very conservative, and that's why, today, I also raised the issue of how are we making some? We're looking at additional revenue streams, an entertainment tax."

Meanwhile, the mayor left the budget meeting Thursday and headed to Lansing for a meeting on auto insurance.

Duggan spoke positively about perhaps getting auto insurance rates down enough so a 45-cent-per-gallon gas tax wouldn't be as difficult.

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