June 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Duggan: Yes vote on bankruptcy plan 'not a complicated decision'

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan on Wednesday encouraged Detroit retirees to support the city’s debt-cutting bankruptcy plan, noting without it $820 million in public and private dollars to shore up their pensions would be lost.

“This is not a complicated decision,” Duggan said. “I certainly believe that any retiree ought to vote for the plan. The alternative is to take 30 percent less. Nobody should let $820 million in foundation and public money slip away, because that will be money straight out of retirees’ pockets.”

Duggan made the remarks following a presentation to the city’s Financial Advisory Board at its bimonthly meeting, hours after the city’s General Retirement System pension fund voted to endorse the city’s plan of adjustment.

On Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes delayed Detroit’s confirmation hearing from July to August. The trial, which is expected to span several weeks, could run beyond Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s scheduled tenure.

Duggan said elected officials intend to be running the city this fall despite the delay and remain “committed to the promise” Gov. Rick Snyder has made all along: They will take over Oct. 1. Duggan added he doesn’t believe Orr’s time will be extended, but is vowing a smooth transition either way.

“Whatever it is, it will be worked out without drama, smoothly,” he said.

Rhodes has moved the start of proceedings to Aug. 14 and scheduled 28 court days through Sept. 23.

Orr on Wednesday said he’s hopeful the city will get through the hearing in that time frame. If not, he’s not opposed to sticking around to wrap things up.

“If it’s a couple weeks here or there, it seems to make sense for us to finish that up,” he said, adding he could remain in place into October, depending on the will of Duggan and the City Council.

Orr also touched on the city’s ongoing negotiations over the fate of the Water and Sewerage Department, saying he’s taking a “parallel track,” remaining optimistic about discussions on a regional authority, but also evaluating a potential agreement with a contractor.

“They (negotiations) are sensitive, ongoing and we hope they bear fruit for everyone’s interest in a way that remains rate neutral, but beneficial to the city,” Orr told the board.

The board on Wednesday also was updated on the city’s financial projections and approved Orr’s triennial budget through the 2017 fiscal year.

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