Minni’s Morning Coffee: Detroit is a City, Not an Employment Service

Last week on WDET (101.9 fm) radio, Craig Fahle made a good point. He had people call in to the Craig Fahle Show to sound off on the proposed slash of 80 percent of Detroit Water Department employees over the next five years.


Many callers were upset about the proposal and said that the city should not make these drastic cuts because people need jobs.


    Then Fahle asked the million-dollar question: What is the water department’s responsibility? To employ people or to provide clean water in the most efficient way possible?


That’s a question many city departments have to ask themselves. When we talk about Detroit’s financial state, and cutting the number of employees to help curb spending, the uprising from people is that the city can’t keep cutting jobs. While unemployment is not good for the economy overall, it’s not the city’s job to keep people employed for employment’s sake.


The proposals for these massive cuts came from consulting firm EMA Inc., hired by the water and sewerage department to study operations and map out a plan to cut costs. EMA conducted the study over three months. In addition to the job cuts, the plan calls for:


  • Outsourcing 361 positions to low-cost contract workers in noncore functions, such as billing and mailing, grounds maintenance, office cleaning and facilities maintenance
  • Outsourcing for large engineering projects and peak times
  • Reducing job classifications from 257 to 31


The City of Detroit is not an employment service. It’s a service provider that should find the most efficient way to provide those services. Unfortunately that is going to mean a lot of jobs lost  in the name of efficiency.

While leaders should be looking for ways to employ people to get work done, the other side to that coin is making services efficient and keeping the city afloat.

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