Last Act of the Detroit Bankruptcy Stumbles Behind a Wall of Secrecy
The final Detroit bankruptcy plan established a 14 June deadline to reach an agreement transferring operating control of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department’s (DW&SD) assets outside of Detroit to the newly created Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). The State of Michigan, Detroit, Wayne County, Oakland County and Macomb County all signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) creating the GLWA late last year, subject to a 200-day due diligence period. Under the MoU, the City of Detroit would receive a $ 50 million annual lease payment from the GLWA while retaining full control of DW&SD assets and operations within the city. Erstwhile DW&SD customers outside Detroit were promised a 4% cap on annual water and sewerage increases for a 10 year period, which have been running above 10% per annum, in residential bills, in most Southeastern Michigan communities.
In point of fact, what has actually been occurring are secret negotiations over future tax increases across Southeastern Michigan. Water rates have become a surrogate form of incremental taxation. These negotiations will set tax fee increment rates for decades into the future. For taxpayers ratepayers who haven’t even been born yet. How are these negotiations going?