The chief mediator in the Detroit bankruptcy case named two federal judges as mediators for continuing discussions toward a regional water authority. U.S. District Judges Sean Cox and David Lawson will facilitate discussions between the city and Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties as they return to negotiating under the direction of Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes. This morning, Rhodes ordered the parties back to the table to renew talks about an authority with shared governance between the city and the counties.
“The creation of a regional water authority is not only in the best interest of the city but also in the best interest of all the customers of the city’s water department,” Judge Rhodes said. “The customers of the water department, since we’re talking about a governmental function here, ought to have the opportunity to participate in the governance of that water authority and the governance of the delivery of water services, and that can only be done through a regional authority.”
The city has issued a “Request for Information” seeking proposals from private companies to manage the system after talks about the regional authority broke down. Suburban county leaders said the city’s proposals called for the non-Detroit municipalities to put too much money into the department and objected to their contributions potentially being moved to the city’s general fund.
With Judge Rhodes’s order today, the parties will resume talks.
In his “State of the County” address Tuesday, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano touted the proposed regional deal for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department that’s part of the city’s bankruptcy restructuring discussions.
Ficano’s remarks contrast with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson who has publicly criticized Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s proposal for DWSD, which provides water for 40 percent of Michigan’s population.
As reported on MLive, Ficano said, “A regional authority solution that brings all the interested parties together and works for everyone makes the most sense.”in DWSD