Detroit Council unanimously approves budget as COVID-19 cancellations hammer city's economy

With Detroit's COVID-19 cases falling, the city's public health crisis, for now, appears to be optimistic. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan attributed that to social distancing rules the city's residents are following.

"Well things are going in the right direction and they are going in the right direction because we have been good about social distancing and in Detroit, in particular, the public is good about wearing masks when we are out and on the worksite," he said. "We have brought 400 workers back to work this week, cutting grass, filling potholes, every single one of them got tested for COVID-19."

When the city brought back 400 employees, its testing identified 15 workers who had the virus. 

"Every day when I walk in my temperature is taken before I am allowed in the building," he said.

Unfortunately, Detroit's future isn't so bright from a financial perspective. Summer events bringing in massive crowds would have meant money going into the city, guaranteeing money moving into the wallets of residents and workers. COVID-19 canceled most of what was scheduled in the city, from the Grand Prix to the Detroit Auto Show.

"It's a hit to the City Of Detroit's finances, it's a hit to the pocketbooks of all the workers who would've been doing those jobs. We have to bring people back, safely and here in the city we are doing that," Duggan said.

On Tuesday, the city unanimously approved its fiscal budget after projecting a $194 million revenue shortfall. Much of those losses came from gaming revenue losses, a massive income tax reduction and decline in state revenue sharing. Of the nearly $200 million in cuts, the city will pull $50 million from its rainy day fund, while slashing its blight program by $40 million. Summer recreation programs for youths were also cut. 

The city also axed $50 million from its payroll, laying off hundreds of employees. It also plans to draw 

In a statement on the budget's passing, Council President Pro Temore Mary Sheffield said "In my opinion, the City’s budget is a statement of our values and I want it to be clear that we value our employees, all of our citizens and those with whom we do business."

The city did manage to salvage a home repairs grant and continuing to fund its affordable housing program. 

So when the city returns to work, who will be first to return? The mayor echoed the sentiments of Michigan's governor by phasing in certain industries over time.

"We are going to have to go a step at a time. I think you will see clothing stores, open up sooner, and than you'll see sit down restaurants open up," he said. "I think the governor is taking a responsible approach to this and I think week by week you will continue to see things open in a medically safe way."