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Detroit Auditor General report: Demolition program mismanaged, lacks oversight

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
Eric Froh points out some of the more desireable pieces of limestone. He's hoping to find one of the City of Detroit medallions that were used at each of the building's four entrances, but he supsects they were likely all broken by demolition machiery.

Detroit has demolished more than 19,000 abandoned buildings under Mayor Mike Duggan.

But a new report contends that demolition program has suffered from mismanagement and lacked oversight.

Those findings are laid out in a report from Detroit’s Auditor General. Among other things, it found that city departments failed to properly supervise demolition contractors.

That resulted in things like contractors starting demolitions before they got proper permits, and failing to take proper safety precautions.

The audit also found that paperwork was a major problem. Contractors didn’t provide enough documentation for payment. And overall reporting for city-funded demolitions “lacks transparency, accuracy, and completeness.”

The city has spent more than $532 million on demolitions during Duggan’s administration, according to the report. Just under half that money came from the federal government.

The report comes as Duggan is asking the Detroit City Council to pass a $250 million bond proposal to help finance another 19,000 demolitions. Detroit voters would also need to approve that.

A mayor’s office spokesman did not directly respond to a request for comment on the Auditor General report.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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