CHICAGO — Detroit Mayor Dave Bing Thursday tapped Jack Martin to be the city’s new chief financial officer and oversee its urgent efforts to stabilize finances and avoid bankruptcy.
Martin will take the helm as Detroit enters a historic period of operating under a consent decree that gives Michigan considerable oversight over its finances.
The appointment of a new CFO is required as part of the consent decree. The city had operated without the position for years.
Bing still needs to appoint a so-called program manager who will oversee the implementation of the fiscal stabilization agreement. Both appointees were to be chosen by the mayor from a list selected by state officials.
A well-known finance veteran in Michigan, Martin was a member of the state-appointed review team that scrutinized Detroit’s finances for more than three months before deciding it was in a state of financial emergency.
At a press conference with Bing on Thursday, Martin said the experience will give him a head start in his new position.
Just four months ago, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed him emergency manager of the Highland Park School District.
He plans to leave that post around May 23.
“The problems we must collectively fix were not caused by this administration, this council or the labor leaders,” Martin said. “The problems were created over several decades and cannot be fixed overnight, and there is no silver bullet.”
Detroit can’t cut its way out of its problems and will need to find new sources of funding and revenue, he added.
“We have monumental hurdles, with virtually no money,” he said. “There are many, many infrastructure issues that need to be fixed, and the revenue streams do not exist. We’re going to have to get creative to get the job done.”
Martin, who was CFO of the U.S. Department of Education from 2002 to 2005 under President George W. Bush, said he hoped Washington would contribute federal funding.
He indicated, however, that he would not rely on Michigan to provide additional money, as Bing has done in the past. “I don’t think the state honestly has a lot of money to give,” he told reporters.
Bing said he has known Martin for years. “He’ll bring critical expertise to my administration as we work to fiscally right the city,” the mayor said.
The financial stability agreement requires Martin to provide monthly financial and budget updates to Bing, the City Council, the Financial Advisory Board and the state treasurer, as well as post the updates on the city’s website.
Martin is the founder of accounting and consulting firm Martin, Arrington, Desai & Meyers PC. He also worked under former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as chief executive of the Home Federal Savings Bank of Detroit.