The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

September 28, 2013

Ahead of talks, feds find $100M for broke Detroit

(Continued)

“There is not going to be a bailout,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We have enough problems with the federal deficit. We need to be creative and look at existing programs. There are still some funds there.”

The funding announced by Sperling will include $65 million in Community Development Block Grants for blight eradication, $25 million in a public-private collaboration for commercial building demolition and nearly $11 million in funds to ensure working families can live in safe neighborhoods.

Holder will announce $3 million that, in part, will be used to hire new police officers. About $25 million also will be expedited to Detroit to hire about 140 firefighters and buy new gear.

“It wasn’t enough to try and free the resources,” Sperling said. “We had to make sure they are well-used and targeted.”

In addition, Orr, the city’s emergency manager, has told the city’s two municipal retirement systems he wants to freeze Detroit’s pension plans and move to a 401(k)-style system.

The gathering Friday follows a series of meetings with the White House to plot ways to pull Detroit from a fiscal pit that this summer made it the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy protection.

Detroit has had a poor record in making sure grant money is used properly and even spent at all.

In 2011, Mayor Dave Bing fired the director of the city’s Human Services Department after an internal investigation revealed $200,000 intended for poor residents was spent on office furniture for staff members.

The following year, his office had to scramble to use about $20 million in grants that had been left sitting for demolitions of thousands of vacant houses. The city’s Police Department also allowed a $400,000 grant to lapse for a new armored vehicle.

The grant troubles have rankled Orr, the emergency manager Gov. Rick Snyder appointed to lead the city out of its financial mess.

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