Deep Detroit water department cuts announced - FOX 32 News Chicago

Deep Detroit water department cuts announced

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Dave Bing  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Dave Bing (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

"Job redesign will have us take roughly 257 job classifications and reduce it down to about 30," said Jim Fausone from the Detroit Water Board.

The first phase of those cuts will start over the next six months.  80 percent cuts to the Water and Sewer Department, outsourcing of non-core functions and investing in new technologies over the next five years.  That's more than a thousand pink slips.

In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Dave Bing and his staff emphasized with those who will certainly lose their jobs, but say these deep cuts are necessary.

"The model that we have in place today is just unsustainable.  The City Council since I've been there for three years has raised the rates almost ten percent for the last three years," said City Council President Pro-tem Gary Brown.

Once fully implemented, the cuts will save the city $149 million a year and make water rates more affordable for Detroit and suburban customers.

Bing stopped short of saying whether the water rates would still increase in the near future or when the savings will be passed on to you.

But John Riehl, president of AFSCME Local 207, says don't count on it.  Water and sewage workers are understaffed as it is.

"They're trying to dismantle our water department just like the financial stability agreement's designed to dismantle the City of Detroit," he said.

"I don't concur with that at all.  I think there are too many people that fight change, and status quo has got us where we are," said Bing.

"Since the water department will fail under [this] severe cut down on workers, then they'll use it as an excuse to say, 'Oh, we're violating the pollution rules again,' and then a judge can turn over to regional authority and totally separate it from the City of Detroit," Riehl remarked.  "City workers are very angry about this, and they have not heard the end of it."

Bing told us union busting is the last thing on his mind.  He said his only concern is the 750,000 residents in Detroit and making sure they have better city services.  He also said if this restructuring plan is successful, expect to see similar cuts across the board for other city departments.

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