CHICAGO — A team of Michigan officials that is reviewing Inkster’s finances voted Wednesday to accept a consent decree with local officials, a move that would allow the troubled Detroit suburb to avoid a full state takeover.
If the recommendation is adopted by Gov. Rick Snyder, it would mark the first time the state has allowed a consent agreement as outlined in a one-year-old law for fiscally stressed local governments.
Such an agreement enhances the power of local officials, including the ability to amend union contracts, but staves off a takeover as long as the city meets certain conditions.
Snyder has said in the past a consent decree would be the best option for Detroit, which is also under state review. The Inkster team is expected to formally recommend the move to Snyder next week.
The Michigan Treasury Department began investigation Inkster’s finances in October 2011 and reported several problems, including chronic deficits.
One of the members of the review team, Frederick Headen, who is director of the Treasury’s Local Government Services Bureau, is also on the review team that is examining Detroit’s books.
Separately, opponents of the state’s new emergency management law Wednesday filed more than 226,000 signatures calling for a referendum to repeal it. If officials approve at least 161,300 of the signatures, the state will be forced to suspend the law until the question appears on the November ballot. The Board of State Canvassers has 60 days to review the signatures.
Attorney General Bill Schuette put out a statement after the signatures were submitted, saying the state’s former EM law would automatically be revived if the current law were suspended. That would allow existing EMs to remain in place.
“If the petitioners achieve the proper certification, Public Act 4 will be suspended pending the outcome of the referendum vote in November and the previous state law governing emergency financial managers will govern in the interim,” Schuette said.