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Council approves furloughs

By Mike Sandula
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — City Council voted Feb. 12 to impose furloughs on its staff. The vote passed 6-2 with Council members Brenda Jones and JoAnn Watson voting “no.” Councilmember Kwame Kenyatta was absent.

The vote came a day after the Financial Advisory Board reportedly voted in favor of furloughing about 600 unionized city employees.

Council’s furlough days for its 40 staffers amount to a 10 percent pay decrease.

Council Pro Tem Gary Brown voted in favor of the furloughs, but said every department should be asked to sacrifice.

“I don’t want only Council to take furloughs,” he said. “These savings have to be real.”

The furloughs will begin Feb. 25.

The open enrollment period — which will allow Council members to opt out of healthcare, as Watson has already done — occurs in August.

Belle Isle panel to look into lease options

Council president Charles Pugh announced Feb. 12 that his office will be assembling a panel — including representatives from Council, the mayor’s office and various conservancies and city agencies — that will look into lease options for Belle Isle.

“There’s a universe of opportunities we seem not to be exploring,” he said. “This is encouraging the administration to sit down with Council and find a way to generate funds.”

Councilmember Andre Spivey, meanwhile, urged Council to move onto other pressing matters.

“I think we were elected to do a little more than talk about this park,” Spivey said.

Council also discussed reallocating $62 million in unused, currently unallocated bond money to go toward Belle Isle, but was cautioned not to get its hopes up.

“Bond monies are based on language approved by voters for certain categories,” said Irvin Corley, Jr., director of Council’s Fiscal Analysis Division. “How much could be available for Belle Isle? We just don’t know at this point.”

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