The Midweek Medley

The Midweek Medley

 

Privatizing DWSD?

Both Crain’s Detroit Business and the Detroit Free Press published pieces about the solicitation for private bids for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Brent Snavely, Freep business writer, said:

With negotiations with suburban counties deadlocked, the City of Detroit has issued a request for offers from private companies to operate and manage the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. … Orr, who is steering the city through the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history, said the city has a duty to its creditors to explore all options, especially since the city’s proposal for the creation of a regional authority with Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties is stalled.

Meanwhile, in coverage of Orr’s speech at the University of Michigan Tuesday, Crain’s Amy Haimerl wrote:

…Orr also cautioned not to read too much into a recent request for proposals that the city put forward late last week with prospective private sector buyers to purchase or lease and manage the assets of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The department, which has about $6 billion in debt of its own, comprises nearly 3,000 miles of pipes and connectors over more than 1,000 square miles, and talks about forming a regional authority to manage its assets after bankruptcy have recently stalled.

A 21-page request for information obtained Tuesday by Crain’s calls for interested bidders in a possible sale or lease of the department’s water and sewer network to submit bids by June 1, with a possible award to a bidder coming in August. But Orr characterized that request Tuesday as one option the city could pursue, among many.

“We would like to have the (surrounding) counties at the table, they account for 65 percent of (department) revenue,” Orr said, but went on to add that Detroit must also demonstrate to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that it “looked at every available option…to raise revenue” for the city, before a confirmation hearing begins in late July.

Is Royal Oak Township next?

In the wake of Gov. Rick Snyder’s confirmation that a financial emergency exists in Royal Oak Township (not to be confused with the city of Royal Oak…), the Metro Times opined about the possibility that the .5-square-mile municipality could be the next Michigan locale to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Under Public Act 436, the existing law that addresses local financial emergencies and emergency manager powers, the township may pick an emergency manager, petition for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, neutral mediation, or a consent agreement, the alternative newsweekly writes, continuing:

… the treasury had found the township failed to submit an annual budget, owes hundreds of thousands of dollars on police services, and overspent more than $500,000 than what it had in its coffers last year. Whichever solution is eventually pursued, the situation isn’t pretty.

Message to the unions

Many media reported about Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s speech Tuesday at his alma mater. Here’s what the Detroit News led with:

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr on Tuesday amped up the pressure for a bankruptcy deal, warning unions that funds pledged toward pensions are at risk and proceeding with plans for a privately run water department. Orr … urged the city’s unions to reach an agreement on bankruptcy terms soon or risk the loss of more than $800 million in funding to shore up pension funds.