• Financial experts offer ideas on fixing Detroit

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    The annual chore of putting together Detroit’s city budget for the next fiscal year will begin in earnest in the coming days and will be performed by the mayor and City Council, instead of an emergency manager appointed by the governor.

    The consent agreement signed last week allows the state to assist in the city’s long-term restructuring, while keeping actual power in the hands of elected leaders.

    The deal is designed to fix the city’s $200 million budget deficit and $13.2 billion in structural debt.

    The task is daunting. Detroit’s fiscal situation is among the worst any major city has faced. Both New York and Philadelphia have had oversight boards help those cities out of financial trouble. So what is the answer for Detroit?

    A group of bankruptcy, business, turnaround and fiscal specialists shared their ideas for saving the city with the Associated Press.

    Raise taxes, cut servicesDetroit “by any measure of general accounting” is bankrupt,” said James McTevia, a turnaround specialist and adviser to companies in transition.

    The city needs to raise money, and that can be done through a special tax on all residents and businesses, he said.

    “Then I’d see how much money we have available to meet the expenses,” McTevia said. “Bonds and obligations? We would freeze them. That debt would then have to be restructured. If Detroit owed $100 million in bonds, and you can’t meet it, the people who own the bonds would lose that money. The city would default on the bonds. What are they going to do, repossess the Penobscot Building? Detroit is insolvent anyway. People just aren’t recognizing it.”

    Mayor Dave Bing has threatened service cuts, but so far the biggest changes are in city bus service. Some little-used routes have been canceled, while others have been shut down during nonpeak hours.

    “You gotta operate the city with services at the level of income that it has,” McTevia said. “You don’t cut the grass. Anything they can’t afford needs to be done away with. Then, you would get into privatizing services.”

    Read more from other experts on what solutions could revitalize Detroit in the Detroit News

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