Detroit City Council, Working From Home, Faces Coronavirus Budget Challenges

Detroit City Council held a virtual meeting following state orders to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak, and is now facing budget challenges due to the crisis.

Detroit City Council is working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak. Public officials held a quorum over ZOOM video-conference.

City Council President Brenda Jones led Detroit’s first virtual meeting following Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. The council addressed the city’s ongoing response to COVID-19. As of publish time, Detroit is reporting more than 700 cases of the respiratory illness and 12 deaths.

“Our income tax and our gaming revenues, which are our first and fourth largest revenue sources, will decrease.” – Dave Massaron, Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer

The city health department is maintaining a hotline for residents as is translates its guidance to other languages, and has expanded it’s staff of contact investigators, who retrace the steps of individuals diagnosed with the disease to find more cases, from three to 15.

Budgetary Challenges

Council also discussed the financial challenges ahead due to an expected steep drop in tax and other revenue. 

The city has spent $11 million on its current response efforts, utilizing surplus reserves. Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer Dave Massaron says financial analysts are identifying essential city operations to fund. Detroit will freeze hiring and capital investments, as it seeks federal relief.

For now,  Detroit will stop funding demolitions for the foreseeable future. 

Massaron says although his department presented a new city budget last month, it will need to be re-written over the summer to account for current losses.

“With the casinos shut down and restaurants, and general public life, that our income tax and our gaming revenues which are our first and fourth largest revenue sources, will decrease,” said Massaron.

City council will need to approve an amendment to the budget.

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  • Eli Newman
    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.