LeDuff: Detroit doesn't really have a budget for Belle Isle - New York News

LeDuff: Detroit doesn't really have a budget for Belle Isle

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A view of Belle Isle from the sky.  Fox 2's Charlie LeDuff says there is no budget for the Detroit gem.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) A view of Belle Isle from the sky. Fox 2's Charlie LeDuff says there is no budget for the Detroit gem. (Credit: Fox 2 News)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

What happens to all those coins that children throw into the fountains at Belle Isle that carry their wishes?  No one really seems to know.  Some people say that the bums steal them.  We've also been told the city workers collect them and put them in a coffee can and then drop that money into an account that goes into park services.  No one seems to know what account.

Remember the argument we were having over whether the city or the state should run Belle Isle, and they said it cost $6 million a year to keep up?  As it turns out, that $6 million is just a "guess"-timate.  In fact, there is not really a budget for Belle Isle at all.

Now according to an analysis prepared by the City Council last year, an analysis and not a budget, about $3 million a year goes to pay for utilities on Belle Isle for things like sewers and electricity.  That goes to pay for lights that are always on or the toilets that are welded shut.

Another $1.8 million goes to horticulture, keeping up the greenhouses and building maintenance.

Here is what Kevyn Orr, Detroit's new emergency financial manager, said about the whole thing: "First thing I'm going to do is look at the data, and that will drive my decision.  Also, in conjunction with the team, prioritizing what needs to be done."

"[Whoever] we're told is on the team, that's [who] we're going to work with.  We have a 40 year relationship with the city.  We will continue that.  If the state's at the table, we will be there for them, as well," said Belle Isle Conservancy President Michele Hodges.

"It could be a great place, especially for a city like this that doesn't really have a whole lot of natural beauty or attractions in it," said park goer John Paul Hargan.

Now the state of things in Detroit is nobody's fault in particular, and far be it from me to tell a very powerful man how to do his job.  But Mr. Financial Manager, I wouldn't believe these numbers.  I'd triple check them before I did anything.  Do it for the sake of the children.

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