Detroit — Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said Thursday he's worried about how a Detroit bankruptcy would affect Oakland County's AAA bond rating.
His remarks to The News came after he joked at a Detroit Regional Chamber event that he became "new best friends" with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing after a trip to New York two years ago, when bond rating officials explained that Oakland's ratings are inextricably tied to Detroit's.
"We're the best managed county in America, we're debt free, why would you penalize us if Detroit goes bankrupt?" Brooks said he asked ratings officials.
"The answer was 'You're in the neighborhood.' So I called up Mayor Dave Bing, naturally, and we're new best friends. We're rooting for Detroit."
Patterson's remarks were made at the Southeast Michigan Health Leaders Forum, where he gave a presentation on the county's Medical Mainstreet program, which markets the region's vast life sciences and health care resources.
Afterward, Patterson told The News he is genuinely concerned that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will file for federal municipal bankruptcy.
"Look at who's in charge of the turn-around," Patterson said. "He's a very smart guy, but his whole background is bankruptcy. Clearly it's one of his options."
Asked how likely he thinks it is that bankruptcy will be filed, Patterson said, "(Gov. Rick) Snyder does not want it to happen, Bing does not want it to happen, but sometimes the forces of evil are going to prevail because they waited too long."
Patterson said a Detroit bankruptcy would lower Oakland's credit rating enough to cost the county a "couple of million dollars a year" in increased interest rates.
"We represent all the local communities (in Oakland County) as well, and if your rating isn't as good, they're going to pay the price too."