Detroit City Council Votes Down Mayor's $250M Demolition Bond Proposal

WWJ News
November 19, 2019 - 5:39 pm

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - The Detroit City Council has rejected a proposal to ask voters to approve the sale of up to $250 million in bonds to eradicate residential blight.

There were claps and cheers as council members voted 6-3 Tuesday against the plan.

Mayor Mike Duggan's office wanted the initiative on the March 2020 ballot with bond funding available next year. 

The mayor has said all of the blighted house in the city would be demolished by 2025 if the bond issue was approved, and that the bonds would be repaid over the next 30 years using existing tax revenue.

Several hundred city residents attended a public hearing Monday on the proposal.

"Some people did speak out in favor of the proposal, but the majority were telling council members to vote no," WWJ's Vickie Thomas  reported. "And that's exactly what this council did."

A report by Detroit's auditor general has cited unreliable data, documentation issues and other problems with the city's demolition work.

As for what will happen next, Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield says any council member can file with the city clerk for a reconsideration of his or her vote before 4 p.m. next Monday. If any council member were to do so, the issue could end up back on the council agenda next Tuesday.

If there are no changes, the proposal will not appear on the March ballot. 

Reacting to news of the vote, Duggan said he respects council members' decision and will work with them on how best to move forward. 

"I didn't hear any council member say it wasn't important to get blight out of our neighborhoods," the mayor told reporters. "What we need is a plan that the mayor and council can both agree on, and I'm committed to working with council members on that."

"Neither the mayor or the council is going to say to folks in the blighted neighborhoods: 'You just have to live with these abandoned houses and there's no hope.' We're not gonna do that." 

Duggan acknowledged that there have been problems with the city's blight removal program, which has been funded thus far primarily by $265 million in federal funding.

About 19,000 vacant houses in Detroit have been demolished since 2014.