Detroit's population drops but pay for city leaders is going up

The US Census Bureau says Detroit’s population has decreased once again.  The city of just over 632,000 people has dropped by nearly 8,000 over the last couple years.

But pay for city leaders is going in the opposite direction. City officials recently gave themselves some big raises.

The question is, are they doing enough to justify the higher pay in a way that keeps people in the city and attracts more future residents?

"I’m going to stay in the lane of transportation. Horrible," said Brother Cunningham.

Brother Cunningham is a Detroit activist pushing for better transit - a critical need for any major city.

"There’s a sense that these are lost people. Who cares about those that ride the bus, they don’t vote anyway," he said. "I just think in the lane of public transportation, they should not be receiving a raise."

Here’s why Cunningham and some others feel that way.

"I don’t feel the sense of urgency from all the members of City Council, and the mayor’s office is not there," he said. "For the police, they came in and opened up the contract and gave them more money. These buses are terrible. They’re not running on time, there’s a shortage. When the bus drivers get trained, they get their CDLB and go elsewhere. Greyhound. Smart Bus."

In February council members approved a 7 percent raise for themselves, the mayor, and the city clerk. Also agreed upon, was a 3.5 percent salary increases each July for the next three years.

For example, Mayor Mike Duggan was hauling in just under $190,000 a year and it's now jumped to more than $202,000 annually.

"I think that should have been coming to the people," said one resident.

Everyday Detroiters we talked with say they could use some help too, especially those struggling to make ends meet.

"Coming out here for the homeless, Y’all need to come out and really see how many homeless people is really out here," said the resident.

Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters defends the pay increases for city officials despite the population decline.

"What I say is that, the work has not changed," she said.

Waters also spoke more about the compensation for key department heads rather than elected officials like herself.

"We depend on department heads a great deal - we do," she said. "They work extremely hard, they deserve an increase."

Top city officials will say that there are really no days off and have numerous demands on their time on weekends.

In the meantime, Mayor Mike Duggan has taken umbrage with the US Census Bureau, claiming it has been undercounting the city. In a recent online outburst, he called it "a clown show."