Detroit not jumping on garage sale option

Feb. 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM
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DETROIT, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's Chief of Staff Kirk Lewis said the mayor has no plans to sell city assets, which could quickly relieve the city's cash crunch.

"There is no component of the mayor's deficit plan that currently includes the selling of city assets," said Kirk Lewis, Bing's chief of staff.

But suspicion that Detroit may have to sell landmarks and services is rising, as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in late December appointed a 10-member committee to look into Detroit's financial situation.

A preliminary review found Detroit was in "probable financial distress," The Detroit News reported Monday.

If the review conducted by the governor's panel comes up with a negative report, the state has the power to assign Detroit an interim financial manager, called an emergency manager, who would have the authority to sell city assets.

The city could possibly lease its parking meters to private business. It could also sell such noted landmarks as Belle Isle -- an island park in the Detroit River -- and properties such as Hart Plaza, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport, the News said.

While the move would raise cash quickly, there are fears that prices for services would also go up quickly. In addition, after the sales, the city would still be losing money.

"What typically happens when you sell an asset (such as the Belle Isle park) is you start charging 50 cents and it goes up to $1.50," said the Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church.

Williams is leading a campaign to repeal the state's emergency manager law.

"I'm totally opposed to it (selling assets) because it won't solve the problem. Our problem is revenue," said Detroit resident Valerie Burris.

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