More than half have city jobs after restructuring

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — More than half of the city employees forced to reapply last year for jobs in a departmental restructuring have held on to positions in Detroit, new data released Tuesday show.

The positions of about 370 employees citywide were affected by the creation of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer when it began in January 2015, which called for the restructuring of all finance related functions in the city.

As of October, 176 current workers have accepted job offers in the office through the competitive application process, 76 took positions in other city departments and 34 police officers were reassigned to police duty, according to Tuesday data provided by the administration.

Meanwhile, 55 affected workers retired or resigned, and about 30 were laid off between May and July. Other positions still are being filled.

Detroit CFO John Hill shared the hiring data with Detroit’s City Council during a subcommittee meeting Tuesday. The update comes amid continued calls for transparency and controversy over high-paid consultants Hill hired without the council’s consent.

The CFO office reorganization got underway shortly after the city’s 2014 exit from bankruptcy, eliminating existing positions in favor of hundreds of new job classifications with competitive pay.

The move sparked concern among some council members and union leaders who worried longtime workers would be out of jobs. In the years leading up to the city’s Chapter 9, Detroit workers saw pay freezes and cuts, and weren’t provided reviews or training.

Officials on Tuesday noted an unfair labor practices complaint tied to the restructuring is pending.

Councilwoman Janee Ayers asked Hill for the numbers, saying she often gets complaints.

“I get calls or I pass people in the hallway and when they start to talk about disparity in treatment as far as this process is going, I’m concerned,” she said.

The internal restructuring of several departments is outlined in the city’s bankruptcy plan. There are 479 positions overall for the CFO’s office.

Under the reorganization, city workers whose existing positions are eliminated can vie for jobs in new classifications. The city also has provided skills training services.

Council member Scott Benson told Hill on Tuesday that he’d like to know about the impact on existing workers. He also inquired about demotions and pay reductions.

“I want to get a quality-of-life look at some of these numbers,” Benson said.

Hill told the council “no one made less money than they made in the previous organization” and some got higher-level posts.

Meanwhile, Hill said he’s aiming by Friday to turn over documents council President Brenda Jones requested on city consultants earning more than $100,000 after council members became aware of several high-priced contracts.

The newest consultant is earning $118 an hour, and up to $951 per day, under an agreement Hill arranged last fall. Dexter Lockamy, a Baltimore-based financial turnaround expert, joined the city in late June under the $495,000 deal.

The CFO is empowered under an emergency manager order to bypass the council and make hiring decisions to support finance and budget operations. Hill said he’s supplied monthly reports to council on all his actions.

In December, he voluntarily surrendered those powers but not before signing off on Lockamy’s contract and extending a separate agreement with another Washington, D.C.-based restructuring consultant, Larry A. King, who has earned more than $626,000.