Update on Detroit’s Looming Bankruptcy
The hollowing out of Detroit is nearly complete. All that’s left is a bankrupt shell of a city with no services and scattered citizens that do not pay taxes.
The Detroit News reports Half of Detroit Property Owners Don’t Pay Taxes
Nearly half of the owners of Detroit’s 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis, according to a Detroit News analysis of government records.
The News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47 percent of the city’s taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. Some $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools and the library.
Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes last year, The News found. Many of those who don’t pay question why they should in a city that struggles to light its streets or keep police on them.
“Why pay taxes?” asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home on an east-side block where five owners paid 2011 taxes. “Why should I send them taxes when they aren’t supplying services? It is sickening. … Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came.”
Update on Detroit Bankruptcy
Detroit is financially and morally bankrupt yet the governor refuses to make that declaration. A Review team says Detroit faces financial crisis, has no plan to fix it so why won’t the governor act?
For the second time in a year, a state review team has found Detroit is in a financial emergency that requires Gov. Rick Snyder to intervene in City Hall.
But this time, if Snyder agrees that a financial emergency exists, the governor’s choices are more limited. He could appoint an emergency manager to keep Michigan’s largest city from plunging into bankruptcy, experts say, or he could continue state financial supervision through a new consent agreement, which seems a faint possibility.
State Treasurer Andy Dillon ruled out a bankruptcy filing at this time.
The six-member review team unanimously concluded in a report released Tuesday that the city failed to restructure its debt-laden bureaucracy under the financial consent agreement signed in April and that Detroit’s financial crisis requires Snyder’s intervention “because no satisfactory plan exists to resolve a serious financial problem.”
Chapter 9 bankruptcy is “always a possibility but I don’t think the city should go through (Chapter) 9 to cure its ailments,” he added.
The review team said the city’s charter adds “numerous restrictions” and hurdles for closing departments, canceling contracts and the type of wholesale restructuring financial experts say is necessary to make city government live within its means.
Restrictions? Who Cares?
In bankruptcy, restrictions go out the window. So do union contracts and pensions. Since all of that needs to go out the window, what’s holding the governor back?
About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.