Saturday, Jul 30, 2016
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Detroit officials meet with pension reps

City seeks to avoid bankruptcy

DETROIT — A restructuring team seeking to avoid the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history met Wednesday with representatives for Detroit’s public workers and retirees over a plan that would impose huge cuts on city pension and health programs.

After the two-hour meeting behind closed doors, some representatives for the workers complained they received no new information or financial figures related to the plan being floated by the city’s state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.

“Really nothing was discussed other than we need future dialogue,” said Joe Barney, who represented emergency medical workers. “We’ve got to fix this place. It’s broken across the board. We’ve been going through this for two years. What do you do? You show up for work and see what happens.”

Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Mr. Orr to oversee Detroit’s finances as the city tries to climb out of a crisis that includes a $380 million deficit and long-term debt nearing $17 billion, according to Mr. Orr’s team. The city’s retirement system is responsible for a significant chunk of the problem and is underfunded by $3.5 billion.

Some experts fear the city could be pushed into an unprecedented bankruptcy filing if there is much resistance to the plan from Detroit’s two pension systems, union workers, and the many creditors owed billions of dollars by the city.

Mr. Orr met earlier Wednesday with some creditors. He did not attend his team’s meeting with the General Retirement System pension leaders, spokesman Bill Nowling said.

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