The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit budget:
An attack on city workers and residents

Apr 18, 2005

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick proposed his new budget for the city last week. The budget is filled with cutbacks that will mean certain hardship for city workers and residents.

Kilpatrick proposes to reduce bulk garbage pickup in the city, so that NONE would take place in the months of November, December, February and March. He must figure, if the garbage is frozen, it might make nice sled runs – so let it pile up!

He proposes to cut 754 city employees, including 61 firefighters and 31 paramedics, and ask remaining workers to take a 10% pay cut. He proposes to consolidate some city departments, and eliminate others.

And he tries to tell us that services will improve, not disappear!

Kilpatrick also proposes to cut all city support for the Detroit Zoo and Historical Museum. He already cut support for the Art Museum and closed the Aquarium. He's effectively saying that the workers who live in the city have no right to culture.

On top of that, he proposes to raise taxes in the city of Detroit – a "fast food tax" of two%, which will be paid mainly by lower-income residents.

But at the same time that Kilpatrick said these moves are needed to stem a 300 million dollar budget shortfall, he also turned around and paid 23 million dollars for a piece of industrial property on the Detroit River. When he wants it, the money flows freely!

Big tax breaks have long been part of Detroit city business schemes, from its three casinos and the Tigers' new baseball stadium, all the way back to GM's Poletown plant in the early 1980s. The city has also paid to tear down big swatches of the downtown area in order to rebuild office buildings and condominiums in the neighborhood of the new ball park and opera house – giving tax breaks to the new occupants.

But for ordinary city residents, all they've seen have been higher taxes and bigger cuts in services. Detroit residents already pay some of the highest city taxes in the country. Now Kilpatrick proposes to charge residents even more, while giving them much less.

To be so blatant in taking away from workers to give to the rich – Kilpatrick must really think he's untouchable!

He may discover he's wrong.