Consultant Recommends a Part-Time City Council for Detroit

A report suggests that the financially troubled city cut 78 of the 115 council staff positions.

Posted: 04/10/2013 11:53 AM EDT

Detroit mayor Dave Bing, Kevyn Orr and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. (Photo: REUTERS/ Rebecca Cook)

A report by a team of consultants to the city of Detroit has recommended that the city council become a part-time body and that it undergo significant reductions in its staffing.

The report, which was the result of a study by restructuring consulting firm Conway McKenzie, has called for cutting 78 of the 115 positions within the Detroit City Council or within divisions of the city government that report to the council.

The reductions called for in the McKenzie report are far more extensive than those included in a draft for the upcoming fiscal budget outlined by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

The report comes at a time when Detroit’s fiscal affairs are likely to be severely restructured. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently appointed Kevyn Orr, a lawyer with a prestigious Washington firm, as the emergency financial manager of Detroit. It had not yet been determined whether Orr will adopt any of the recommendations of the consultant.

“Kevyn is reviewing the report and he considers it a thoughtful and thorough study,” said Bill Nowling, a spokesman for Orr, in an interview with BET.com. “He will give it serious consideration.”

If the plan is adopted, the city council would see its budget reduced from $11.2 million to  $3.8 million. In addition to the pay cut, the staff would be cut to one person for each council member. That compares with the current staffing levels of between four and eight people for each council member. The move would save more than $7 million in the next fiscal year.

Not surprisingly, the recommendations have been harshly criticized by the current members of the city council, who complain that it would leave their offices unable to adequately deal with the requests and needs of their constituents.

The appointment of an emergency manager has been highly controversial in Detroit, where elected officials and activist groups contend that the move by the Republican governor cripples the democracy in the largely African-American city.

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