Angry Detroiters ask city leaders to rethink vote on costly Pistons move

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The Detroit Pistons got the green light to receive public funding for their move downtown - but not everyone thinks the money should be a slam dunk.

"We are getting tired of people starving and children being taken away because they don't have water," said one resident. "That $34 million should be going to support our community."

Detroiters gave Councilwoman Mary Sheffield an earful for her vote to help fund the Pistons move back to the city. Tired of seeing downtown and midtown flourish, residents are frustrated asking what about the neighborhoods.

It will cost taxpayers $34 million dollars and another $20 million to help build a practice facility.

"Nothing that is actually, truly  beneficial to the people in this room or the people that they know came out of this deal," said another resident.

Sheffield sought to clear up misconceptions about the Pistons deal, saying it's an old state law that allows the Downtown Development Authority or DDA to capture taxes that can only be used to pay off bonds for development projects in downtown, midtown and now, new center.

Only property and business owners in those areas are footing the bill. And those tax dollars are not being withheld from the Detroit Community School District.

"This has no impact whatsoever on our schoolchildren," said Sheffield.  "The only impact that it has is on the old DPS, which is operating just for the purposes of paying off debt."

FOX 2: "How much money would the old DPS miss out on with this new Pistons development?"

"At least $700 million in total," said Lamarr Lemmons. "Minimum."

Lemmons is a Detroit school board member.

"It definitely takes money from the kids," he said. "Because even though it doesn't take from the school foundation allowance, it takes away from our ability to build schools, repair schools which are in bad shape and over the long run to educate our children."

There's a lawsuit in federal court that would have Detroiters vote on whether they want to pay for the Pistons move.

"This is corporate welfare at its best," said activist Robert Davis, one of the plaintiffs. "Why not let the voters decide, as the statute requires for school related millages? What are they afraid of allowing the citizens the right to vote."

"People are just genuinely upset about what's happening downtown and midtown, and not seeing things in their neighborhood," Sheffield said. "But try to take the emotion out of this and really base things on fact.

"You have to think about the economic activity that's going to take place in the arena. You have to think about the players' salaries, the income tax we're going to get.

"I think it will far exceed the amount that we're going to pay, the $34.5 million in taxes for bonds."

The city council vote is 6-2 to help fund the Pistons move back to the city. Sheffield can reconsider her yes vote on Tuesday - if that happens the whole council would have to vote all over again.