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Editorial: Vote yes on Detroit's Prop N

The Detroit News Editorial Board

For a guide to The Detroit News endorsements in all races so far, click here.

Detroit's comeback depends on first stabilizing and then rehabilitating its neighborhoods.

And that starts with ridding the city's residential areas of blighted homes.

Mayor Mike Duggan has a plan for accelerating blight removal by salvaging homes that can be saved and tearing down those that can't.

It's ambitious and expensive — the city is asking residents to approve a $250 million bond proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot. But it is necessary to make Detroit a livable city from border to border.

Detroiters should vote yes on Proposal N, which would authorize the bond sale and continue the work of rebuilding the city's neighborhoods.

Detroiters should vote yes on Proposal N, which would authorize the bond sale and continue the work of rebuilding the city's neighborhoods.

We have some reservations about the proposal, most notably that it would add new debt to a city so recently removed from bankruptcy. But Duggan assures the new obligation is manageable within the 9 tax mills set aside for managing debt load, and promises taxes won't rise because other debt will be paid off as the new bonds are sold.

It's a commitment we expect the mayor to honor.

Blight removal and the Land Bank have not been the best managed areas during Duggan's tenure. We trust that the city has learned from its past mistakes.

The other concern is the mayor's stated goal to set aside half of the contracts and jobs for Detroit-based companies and employees. That's a fine target — if it doesn't result in higher costs for taxpayers. The focus of the bond sale should be solely on blight removal, and that will require getting the most work done for the least amount of money.

Still, the promised payoff of the bond sale is attractive. The plan is to secure and ultimately rehabilitate 8,000 houses while tearing down another 8,000. That will still leave 6,000 abandoned homes unaddressed, but it will take Detroit a long way toward becoming a blight-free city.

Ridding neighborhoods of blighted homes reduces crime and raises property values. That make them more attractive to new residents, and safer for those who already live there.

Duggan has done an exemplary job of managing the city's finances since the bankruptcy. He should be trusted to make sure this bond issue works as he's promised.

Endorsements are determined independently by The Detroit News Editorial Board and have no influence on news coverage.