Detroit, Michigan

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Detroit, Michigan
Detroit seal.jpg
General information
Mike Duggan.png
Mayor:Mike Duggan
Mayor party:Nonpartisan
Last mayoral election:2013
Next mayoral election:2017
Last city council election:2013
Next city council election:2017
City council seats:9
2014 FY Budget:$3.1 billion
City website
Composition data
Population in 2013:2,718,782
Gender:51.5% Female
Race:White 45.0%
White Not-Hispanic 31.7%
African American 32.9%
Asian 5.5%
Native American 0.5%
Pacific Islander 0.0%
Two or More 2.7%
Ethnicity:Hispanic 28.9%
Median household income:$47,408
High school graduation rate:80.5%
College graduation rate:33.6%
Related Detroit offices
Michigan Congressional DelegationMichigan State LegislatureMichigan state executive offices
Detroit is a city in Wayne County, Michigan. It is the largest city in the state of Michigan, although between 2000 and 2010, the city's population declined by 25%.[1] The 2010 census put Detroit's population at 713,777.[2]

City government

The city of Detroit utilizes a "strong mayor" and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city's primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city's chief executive.[3]


The mayor serves as the city's chief executive, and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and committee members and overseeing the city's day-to-day operations. The mayor also possesses veto powers, though the Detroit city charter establishes procedures whereby city council may override mayoral vetoes under certain circumstances. Mike Duggan is the current mayor of Detroit.[4]

City council

The Detroit City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.[5]


The Detroit City Council is made up of nine members. Seven are elected by the city's seven districts, while two are elected at large. All members serve four-year terms. There are no term limits.[6]

Election by district has not always been the case in Detroit. Rather, it is the result of a new city charter that Detroit voters approved in November 2011 and took effect in 2013. Before 2013, all city council members were elected at-large. Detroit's seven districts can be seen on the map below.[7]

A full list of city council members can be found here.

City of Detroit council districts.

Council committees

The Detroit City Council features features eight standing committees, which focus on individual policy and legislative issues. Generally, the drafting of city legislation begins with the committees.[8]

For a list of Detroit's committees and committee members, see here.


The city is considering filing for bankruptcy.[9] The Mayor, Dave Bing, is proposing a $3.1 billion annual budget, which would increase casino taxes but would cut public employee's health care and pension benefits in an effort to close the city's $200 million budget gap.[10] Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown says the city is expected to run out of cash by April, but may not be able to meet payroll as early at December.[11]


City officials said they will lay off hundreds of workers in addition to putting some on unpaid leave to stave off increased state oversight. Mayor Dave Bing and top officials outlined plans to lay off 400 to 500 employees over the next two to three months in all non-revenue generating departments, including police and fire, exempting beat officers.[12]

2014 Pacific Research Institute report

In January 2014, the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based public policy organization, issued a report on the largest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcies across the United States as well as other municipalities facing financial straits. The municipalities included in the report are Detroit, New York City, Harrisburg, PA, Stockton, CA, San Jose, CA, and San Bernardino, CA.[13] According to the report, Detroit is insolvent due to economic decline, financial mismanagement, and unfunded pension liabilities.[13] The city’s total debt and long-term obligations were estimated at $18 billion as of January 2014. This was 7 times larger than the city’s $2.5 billion municipal budget. Detroit’s economic decline has included 78,000 unoccupied homes and an estimated 50% of the city’s 305,000 properties not paying any tax, as well as continued decline in the property and income tax bases.[13]

Public employee salaries

See also: Detroit employee salaries

Water department

Detroit's Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) will be eliminating four out five jobs, or 81 percent of its work force as a result of a city consultant's evaluation. In the past decade the department has doubled its rates to cover the cost of labor, and the city is hoping cutting these jobs will save $900 million. In total it would cut jobs from 1,978 employees currently to about 374.[14] The city used twice the number of employees per gallon of water compared to cities like Chicago.[15]

It was also made public in the report that the DWSD still employs a horseshoer for $29,245 in salary and about $27,000 in benefits. According to a construction contract manager, DWSD has a blacksmith shop in our Central Services Facility and the horseshoer position was transfered there.[15]


See also: Michigan public pensions

The Detroit Pension Fund has reported losses of $480 million since 2008. Recently, the pension fund came under scrutiny for spending $30 million renovating a building which is worth $1 million.[16]

According to a report published at Northwestern University in 2010, Detroit is one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there is $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans, and this is in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans.[17] The report states that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[17]

(number of plans)
Liabilities, Stated Basis, June ’09 ($B) Liabilities (ABO), Treasury Rate Net Pension Assets ($B) Unfunded Liability ($B) Unfunded Liability / Revenue Unfunded Liability per Household ($)
Detroit (2) 8.1 11 4.6 6.4 402% 18,643


Ronald Zajac and Paul Stewart, former pension officials for the city of Detroit, were indicted by a grand jury in a bribery and kickback scheme that the U.S. Attorney's office said involved more than $200 million in Detroit pension fund investments. Four people have now been indicted in the suspected pension scheme, the U.S. Attorney's office said. The others were investment sponsor Roy Dixon and former treasurer Jeffrey Beasley, a fraternity brother of Kilpatrick's.[18]

Public records requests

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's computer has gone missing. Both Kilpatrick and city officials have been unable to locate the computer. The city has admitted that even if the computer is located, e-mails are purged on a weekly basis by the city. The city's practice ignores the recommendations of the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget to modify and store pertinent e-mails.[19]

Website evaluation

Budget Y
600px-Yes check.png
Meetings P
Elected Officials
Administrative Officials P
Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts P
Lobbying N
600px-Red x.png
Public Records P
Local Taxes

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Transparency grading process
See also: Evaluation of Michigan city websites

The good

  • Budget documents are posted.[20]
  • City Council meeting agendas are posted.[21]
  • City Council members have complete contact information.[22]
  • Telephone contact details are posted on some department webpages for some officials.[23]
  • Audits are online.[24]
  • Permit forms, building codes, and zoning details are posted.[25]
  • Public records request forms are available for some individual departments.[26]
  • Items currently out to bid are available[27].
  • Income tax details are posted.[28] Property taxes may be paid online.[29] Tax rates are included within budget documents.[30]

The bad

  • City Council meeting minutes are not posted online.
  • Information about the dates, times, and locations of City Council meetings is not clearly posted.
  • No contact information for public records requests is provided.
  • There is no information on current vendor contracts.
  • No information on city funded lobbying efforts is available on the Web site.

See also

External links


  1. USA Today, "Motor City population declines 25%," accessed October 19, 2011
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Michigan's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," accessed October 19, 2011
  3. Detroit City Charter, Sec. 5.101-107 and 4.101-122, accessed on August 27, 2014
  4. City of Detroit, "Mayor's Office," accessed on August 27, 2014
  5. Detroit City Charter, Sec. 4.101-122, accessed on August 27, 2014
  6. City of Detroit, "About City Council," accessed on August 27, 2014
  7. Michigan Radio, "Detroit voters approve new city charter," November 8, 2011
  8. City of Detroit, "Detroit City Council Committees, 2013-14," accessed on August 29, 2014
  9. National Review Online, The Next Crisis Will Come from the States, Sept. 29, 2010
  10. Wall Street Journal, Detroit Moves Against Unions, April 18, 2011
  11. MLive, Gary Brown: Detroit could run out of cash in December, plan must include layoffs, Nov. 18, 2011
  12. Reuters, Detroit eyes layoffs, other actions to avoid state control, Dec. 7, 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Pacific Research Institute, "Going Broke One City at a Time: Municipal Bankruptcies in America," January 10, 2014
  14. Detroit Free Press, Detroit water department to cut 81% of workers under new proposal, Aug. 9, 2012
  15. 15.0 15.1 Michigan Capital Confidential, No Horses, But Detroit Water Department Employs 'Horseshoer', Aug. 20, 2012
  16. Detroit Free Press, Detroit pension fund spends $30 million to fix $1-million building, Dec. 27, 2010
  17. 17.0 17.1 MacIver Institute, City of Milwaukee Pension a Ticking Time Bomb According to Northwestern Study, Oct. 12, 2010
  18. Reuters, Two Detroit pension fund officials indicted, March 20, 2013
  19. Detroit Free Press, Kilpatrick ordered to testify about his e-mails, Dec. 2, 2010
  20. Budget Department
  21. Council Calendar Events
  22. City council
  23. Departments
  24. Office of the Auditor General
  25. Buildings Division
  26. Public Records
  27. Bids
  28. Income Tax Division
  29. Property Tax
  30. Budget