Detroit’s CFO On City Budget Woes During COVID-19

The Duggan administration has proposed cutting staff and hours to deal with a drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

City of Detroit skyline and Hart Plaza.

Dodge Fountain at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused unemployment to skyrocket and left local economies on shaky ground.

“We want those employees to come back when the economy reboots.” — Dave Massaron, City of Detroit

In response to the financial challenges caused by the health crisis, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan laid out a budget reduction plan this week proposing cutting salaries and hours for nearly a third of the city’s 8,000 employees.

What will this mean for a city just starting to emerge from municipal bankruptcy? 

Listen: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Impact Detroit’s Finances


Dave Massaron, Detroit City Chief Financial Officer, says that while the entire country is experiencing the same financial uncertainty, Detroit faces unique challenges.

“The high level of fixed costs means we have less room to react,” says Massaron.

He adds that a majority of the city’s revenue comes from casinos, all of which are currently closed due to COVID-19.

“We are experiencing a 12% drop in our revenue below what we anticipated before. We’re losing, in less than two years, 34 percent of what’s available in our general fund,” says Massaron. 

On city employee lay-offs and salary cuts, Massaron emphasized the importance of the federal government’s expansion of unemployment benefits. For those employees lost during this economic downturn, Massaron says he hopes it’s not permanent.

“We want those employees to come back when the economy reboots,” says Massaron. 

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