Birmingham attorney to lead group monitoring Detroit
Lansing — A veteran Birmingham bankruptcy attorney has been appointed executive director of a commission set up to monitor Detroit's finances after its emergence from bankruptcy in December.
The Detroit Financial Review Commission has hired Ron Rose as its top paid employee, state Treasurer Kevin Clinton announced Thursday at a commission meeting in Lansing.
Rose worked under a contract for the Treasury Department last year to help Highland Park settle a troubled pension debt and avoid emergency management, Clinton said.
"He's excited about the job, and he came highly recommended by Judge Rhodes," Clinton said, referencing U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who oversaw Detroit's Chapter 9 case.
Rose spent 43 years at the Dykema Gossett law firm, leading its business bankruptcy practice from 1975 to 2011, when he moved into semi-retirement from the firm.
Last year, the Legislature set up the nine-member Financial Review Commission to have direct oversight of city finances for at least three years as a stipulation for a $195 million state contribution to Detroit's "grand bargain" settlement with pensioners. Clinton is the chairman and its members include Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Brenda Jones, who both called into Thursday's meeting via teleconference.
The commission has "broad responsibilities" to evaluate and approve the city's budget under a criteria prescribed in Detroit's debt-cutting plan, Rose said. The panel has the power to approve all contracts exceeding $750,000, two years in length and collective bargaining agreements.
"The commission is statutorily to be deeply involved in this whole process going forward," Rose said Thursday. "It's really an awesome responsibility that the commission has."
If Detroit's budgets remain balanced for three consecutive fiscal years and the city meets other benchmarks, the commission could go into a period of dormancy for 10 years before being dissolved. But state law allows it to be revived during that period if the city's financial problems resurface.
Rose's annual $130,000 salary will be paid out of the $2 million budget the Legislature appropriated for the commission's operations. Rose and other commission staff will work out of the Cadillac Place state office building in Detroit's New Center, Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton said.
The commission met Thursday to approve two city contracts with organizations to help administer a food assistance program for low-income pregnant women, mothers and children younger than 6.
Commissioners also signed off on the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's plan to issue $81 million in bonds for expanding a facility used to dry processed human waste sludge for fertilizer and $33 million to improve air quality emitting from Detroit's incinerators that burn de-watered biosolids. Those bonds will be issued through the state's revolving loan fund for sewage-processing infrastructure improvements.