Trapped in Detroit?

by Ian Tuttle

Detroit is not only hemorrhaging money, says mayor Dave Bing; its population, too, is draining rapidly. But the mayor has a plan to fix that: Bing is encouraging the city to pass a law that would require new city employees to remain residents of the city for seven years.

Detroit has been in a population slide since the auto capital had its heyday in the 1950s, but since it went into economic freefall, the city has been losing people in droves. The Motor City lost 200,000 people between 2009 and 2010 alone, and more than 50 percent of city employees now live outside the city limits.

But seven years of contractual captivity in Detroit? Sounds like a law that would ensure no one ever works for the city again, or at least drive up the salaries the city has to pay.

As for the city’s money problems — a budget deficit of $380 million and long-term debt approaching $15 billion — Bing is less concerned. “When you talk about a $15 billion debt and long-term liability issue, you don’t solve that in a short period of time. So that is somebody else’s issue at some point,” Bing told a crowd of state political and business leaders. “And I’m glad that’s not me!” (The mayor announced earlier this month that he would not seek reelection.)

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