Detroit— The City Council confirmed Friday appointments to two authorities created to aid the city in fighting blight and getting streetlights turned on.
The council approved its appointment of former Detroit Land Bank Authority chair Marsha Bruhn to the authority’s board. She joins Mayor Mike Duggan’s nominees Erica Ward Gerson, Patricia Pernell-Shelton and Richard Hosey.
The authority members will serve until June 30, 2017. A fifth member of the Land Bank is Larry Lipa, who was appointed by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
The Land Bank was formerly composed of two members appointed by the governor, one selected by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the City Council and the mayor. It has since been reconfigured, allowing the mayor to recommend four members, who are then confirmed by council.
But Duggan allowed council to make one recommendation.
In addition, the council also seated new members to the state-created Public Lighting Authority, a five-member body made up of two at-large representatives, a certified public accountant, engineer and an attorney. All must be Detroit residents.
The council verified the appointments Friday of Mark Smith as the authority’s certified public accountant and Lorna Thomas as an at-large member. Thomas was selected after the council learned Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr would not approve the panel’s first choice, attorney Jerome P. Barney.
Orr’s spokesman, Bill Nowling, said Barney was a late submission that Orr didn’t get enough time to properly vet. The emergency manager anticipated the council wouldn’t act on the appointments until Tuesday, said Nowling, who also commended City Council President Brenda Jones for “coming up with a solution.”
The members will each serve a three-year term that expires Dec. 31, 2016.
The council also approved an appointment made jointly with Duggan for Eva Garza Dewaelsche to serve as the second at-large member. Other members nominated by Duggan are attorney David Jones and Nicole Spieles, an engineer.
In December 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation approving the authority, which calls for the use of $12.5 million in utility taxes to finance streetlight repairs. The legislation also dedicates a portion of Detroit’s income tax to the police to make up for $15 million to $20 million in revenue the department gets from utility taxes.
The authority in recent weeks said it completed the sale of $60 million in bonds to fund the initial phases of its plan to restore reliable streetlights in the city.
Survey teams in the fall concluded that 44 percent of the 3,194 lights in an east side pilot area were out. In the west side pilot area, about 45.5 percent of the 1,745 lights did not work.