Detroit City Council on Tuesday gave initial approval to a proposal that would tax property owners to fight blight just a week after the plan was introduced and despite calls by some for further debate. Mayor Mike Duggan's $250 million bond proposal is now set to advance to the November ballot, where voters will have final say.
Dubbed "Proposal N for Neighborhoods," the plan is a revamped version of one that failed to pass council last year after months of public scrutiny. If approved, it would provide for the demolition of 8,000 abandoned houses and securing of 8,000 more. Detroiters would be prioritized for demolition work and buying the secured homes.
Council saw the plan as an improvement over the previous one, passing it in a 5-4 vote. But some members wanted more time to strengthen certain aspects and gather public input. Council President Brenda Jones and councilmembers Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, Mary Sheffield and James Tate voted against it.
From the Detroit News:
... Lopez warned Tuesday that pushing forward so quickly on the measure is a "complete compromise of values" and "transparency" for the council.
"I feel morally and ethically compromised ... by moving this forward within just a seven-day time period," said Castaneda-Lopez, who voted no. "It's truly, truly disappointing."
Other members, including James Tate and President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield, said they would have supported the plan but based on the controversial history with demolition efforts in the city felt one extra week to strengthen guarantees wasn't much to ask. Council President Brenda Jones also voted no.
The plan is expected to cost the average Detroit homeowner about $57 per year, based on a fall estimate by council's fiscal analyst. It is not expected to raise taxes above current levels, as taxes were first due to drop slightly as the city retires other debts.
'"I'm very pleased that City Council today allowed Detroit voters to decide whether to renovate every house we can and rebuild our neighborhoods," Duggan said in a statement. "I thank Council members for their hard work and commitment to developing the best proposal for our city."