Duggan’s blight bond actually would raise Detroit taxes, 'in a sense'

October 29, 2019, 2:00 PM by  Violet Ikonomova

Duggan unveils $250M blight bond proposal in September. (Photo: Violet Ikonomova)

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has repeatedly claimed he can wipe out Detroit's blight by 2025 without increasing residents' property taxes. His plan, which requires council and voter approval, involves the sale of up to $250 million in bonds to be repaid over the next 30 years using existing tax revenue budgeted for debt retirement.

But as councilmembers on Tuesday weighed whether to allow the proposal to advance to the March ballot, it emerged that the plan would, in effect, raise residents' property taxes.

According to council fiscal analyst Irvin Corley, the bond is "in a sense, a tax increase," because the city's debt millage rate was due to drop from 9 to 6 in 2020, and Duggan's plan would bring the rate back up to 9 the following year.

The 3 mill difference equals about $57 per average $19,000 house in the city.

"I just think that is extremely important to mention ... because I have not heard that really in the conversation," said Councilmember Mary Sheffield.

Duggan Chief Financial Officer Dave Massaron pushed back on Corley's claim that the bond would return the millage rate to 9, though he could not specify exactly where the rate would land.

City council postponed its planned vote on the bond resolution and plans to take up the issue again next week.

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