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Old 07-21-2017, 06:20 PM
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Mary Pat Campbell
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: NY
Studying for duolingo and coursera
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Challenges remain for Detroit 4 years after declaring bankruptcy
Four years after Gov. Rick Snyder authorized Orr to file bankruptcy, the purpose of Detroit's painful financial reckoning to shed $7 billion in debt owed to creditors and retirees is increasingly evident:

65,000 new streetlights have been installed.
Police response times have been reduced four-fold to an average of 13.8 minutes.
11,847 blighted buildings have been torn down since January 2014.
Ambulance response times are half as long as they were when the city went bankrupt, dipping below the national average of eight minutes in April. Detroit has 37 ambulance rigs running during peak afternoon and night-time hours and 34 percent more medical technicians.
Detroit's unrestricted general fund finished the 2016 fiscal year with a $143 million surplus — double the city's surplus from 2015. That's in addition to $62 million the city had to keep in a budget reserve, as required by the city's court-approved bankruptcy exit plan.
The bankruptcy freed up $1.7 billion over 10 years for reinvestment in updating archaic IT systems, buying new police cars, fire trucks and ambulances.
As of March 31, the city had a general fund surplus of $51 million, with $52.8 million more cash on hand than March 2016, according to a May 30 report from the Detroit Financial Review Commission to Snyder.
The surplus has allowed Detroit to squirrel away an extra $20 million into a trust fund for a pension "funding cliff" expected to materialize in 2024, according to the report authored by the commission's executive director, Ronald Rose.

"The surplus is primarily being driven by (700) unfilled vacancies within the city," Rose wrote. "A portion of the projected surplus may be utilized for recommend fleet replacements during FY 2017."

Rose's biannual report went mostly unnoticed the week of Memorial Day while Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan, members of City Council and Detroit's business community were gathered on Mackinac Island for the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual policy conference.

That's because unlike past confabs at the Grand Hotel, the governor and business leaders weren't sounding alarm bells about an impending financial meltdown at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. The bankruptcy laid bare the facts about Detroit's finances that state and city leaders, as well as labor unions, had been largely ignoring for years.

With the city's finances mostly straightened out, private investment confidence in Detroit and its government is evident with every new real estate development or housing project that's announced. It's a confidence that was largely lacking on July 18, 2013, when Detroit's bankruptcy filing triggered international headlines declaring the Motor City dead.

As Detroit's post-bankruptcy unemployment rate has dwindled to a 17-year low and city tax revenues exceed expectations, the focus has turned to addressing more deep-seated problems of rebuilding a middle class in Detroit, fixing the public schools and spreading the "comeback" of downtown and Midtown to long-neglected neighborhoods.

Those are arguably more complicated issues than getting a willing bankruptcy judge to erase decades of unsustainable promises to retirees and poor financial decisions by past city leaders.

New streetlights aren't a cure-all for sparsely-populated streets. Neighborhoods with chronically failing schools — or no school at all — aren't going to attract families back to Detroit.

Poverty, blight and abandonment outside of the vibrant 7.2 square miles of greater downtown serve as a visible daily reminder of what Detroit's historic trip to bankruptcy court couldn't immediately fix.

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