Detroit mayor outlines 2020 ballot proposal to fund blight program

Voters could approve sale of $250 million in bonds

DETROIT - Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is planning a March 2020 ballot initiative to fund the completion of the city's blight removal program.

In a release, the city said Duggan has presented Detroit City Council a request to authorize a March 2020 ballot initiative asking voters to give the city authority to sell up to $250 million in bonds to remove all residential blight from every Detroit neighborhood by mid-2025.  

If approved by City Council, voters would be asked to approve the bond sale at the ballot box during the March 2020 Presidential primary election.  

The blight removal program started in 2014. Since, 19,000 vacant homes have been demolished, with an additional 9,000 homes that have been rehabbed, according to the city. The program has been funded primarily by $265 million in federal funds.

“For the past five years, residents living outside of the federal boundaries have been asking me when it’s going to be their turn and those have been difficult conversations,” the Mayor said.  “Because these funds will be completely controlled by the city, neighborhoods that have lived with blight for decades will see all of it removed within five years of the bond sale being approved.”

The proposal states the bonds would be repaid back over the next 30 years using existing tax revenue budgeted for debt retirement.  The bond sale would not result in increased taxes.

Without the bond funds, the city said it expects it would take 13 years to complete the same number of demolitions using available city general funds.

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