Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, far right, presents his proposed budget to the Detroit City Council on Feb. 23. The budget stresses police services, support for local youths and combating blight along the city’s major corridors.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, far right, presents his proposed budget to the Detroit City Council on Feb. 23. The budget stresses police services, support for local youths and combating blight along the city’s major corridors.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Detroit mayor’s budget plan emphasizes police, youths, fighting blight

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published March 2, 2018

DETROIT — On Feb. 23, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gave his budget recommendations for the 2018-19 fiscal year to the City Council.

Duggan described his plan for a balanced budget, which the city has maintained since 2014, and reported that there is approximately $1 billion in the city’s general fund and $1 billion in its other funds, such as water and sewer.

“This (budget plan) is potentially historic, because we have the opportunity to get out from under state oversight,” Duggan said in his presentation. “(The agreement was) if we can balance our budget for three straight years and construct a four-year plan moving forward, we should have the option of getting out from under state oversight. The Financial Review Committee would then go dormant. They would still review our finances and would come back if we lapsed again, but we wouldn’t need their approval on budgetary matters.”

Duggan said that one of the biggest areas he wanted to see stressed in the budget was the police force; namely, adding new personnel and expanding the city’s real-time crime center capabilities.

“The one area where we’re asking for significant staff increases is the Detroit Police Department, where we are looking to add 141 new positions,” explained Duggan. “There was no reason to ask for more in recent years, because we couldn’t fill the vacancies we already had. We’ve brought on 500 new people in the last few years.”

The other major point that he wanted to see additional financial support for was the city’s Operation Ceasefire program, which is a partnership between law enforcement, church leaders and community members to stop gun violence among the city’s gangs. It does this by reaching out to gang members and other at-risk youths. The five precincts where the program is already in effect have seen a 30 percent decrease in gun violence, according to the mayor.

Duggan went on to say that he wants to see more money going toward after-school initiatives and programs such as Detroit at Work, which helps residents find employment. Additionally, his budget would put more money into eliminating unsalvageable, unoccupied buildings along Detroit’s major streets and financial corridors.

The City Council’s response to the proposed budget was mixed. There were several topics that the council unanimously supported, while there were other issues that many members wanted to see reflected in the budget.

“I am encouraged to see the mayor’s focus on neighborhoods, public safety and animal control,” said Scott Benson, the City Council member for the city’s 3rd District. “However, as I indicated when I launched the 50-40 Poverty Reduction Initiative, we need to continue to sift through these line items to ensure each measure helps reduce poverty using a collective impact framework. That means we are not just looking at job training, but also supporting the wraparound services people need to keep and maintain jobs.”

Benson said there are some specific areas he would like to see more support for in the budget that were not included in Duggan’s plan.

“Other areas I’d like to see improvement in include increased funding to support capital improvements at the city airport and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; increased funding for community benefits ordinance neighborhood advisory council work; increased funds to the Planning and Development Department staff for more neighborhood planning; (and) increased funding to the Health Department for senior services and substance abuse prevention. (Additionally, I would call for) increased funding for workforce development,” he added.”

The budget will be approved later this month.