Detroit is no stranger to the blues. While Motown brought widespread musical fame to this city in the 1960s and 70s, many jazz and blues musicians launched their careers in this town before the Supremes sang their first “doo wop.” Now, Detroit is back to singing the blues again … this time, of a financial nature.

Simply put, Detroit is facing the possibility of running out of cash within the next several months, prompting the state to consider intervention. The State of Michigan has officially begun a review of Detroit’s “dire fiscal challenges,” according to the Detroit Free Press. This action is the first step in what could result in the appointment of an emergency financial manager to oversee Detroit’s finances.

The article explains that “an emergency manager could unilaterally decimate services, sell off assets and fire the mayor and council without local input.”

Detroit Mayor David Bings wants the control of the city to remain within the power of city government. In a financial update on December 1, Mayor Bing expressed his opposition to the appointment of state-appointed emergency manager, saying “We are making progress and moving closer than ever to addressing this fiscal crisis.”

The appointment of an emergency financial manager could be avoided if union concessions are made – to the tune of roughly $100 million per year – and the city can come up with a recovery plan on its own.

Tough times call for extreme measures, which is the approach Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown is taking. According to a related Detroit Free Press article, Brown is proposing to cut the city council budget by one third, eliminating city-owned cell phones and cars, and taking significant cuts in their health care coverage.

Detroit Resources:

Detroit’s profile page on

City of Detroit Finance Department (including links to CAFRs dating back to 2002)

Citizens Research Council of Michigan – Legacy Costs and Indebtedness of the City of Detroit (29-page report, released 12/11)

Detroit’s Financial Review in the News:

(12/6/11) Detroit Free Press – Pressure is on Detroit as State Begins Financial Review

(12/6/11) Detroit Free Press – Detroit City Council Member Gary Brown Calls on Council to Cut One Third of its $13 million Budget

(12/2/11) Reuters – Michigan Starts Review of Detroit’s Finances

(12/1/11) The Bond Buyer – Michigan Governor Sets Stage for Possible Detroit Takeover