By Steve Neavling
DETROIT (Reuters) - A state-appointed team of experts unanimously concluded on Tuesday that the city of Detroit faces a financial emergency and needs help to emerge from its crisis, but it stopped short of calling for the appointment of an emergency manager.
The six-member team appointed by Governor Rick Snyder said the city, which has been hemorrhaging cash amid a declining population and a decimated economy, needs help to make the financial decisions that will put Detroit on a financially sustainable path.
"The team collectively believes the city needs assistance in making the difficult decisions necessary to achieve the significant reforms that are so crucial to the city's long-term viability," Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon said in a statement.
The report said Detroit continues to deplete its cash reserves and faces a cash deficit of $100 million by June 30 without significant spending cuts. The city has long-term liabilities including pensions exceeding $14 billion, it said.
Snyder, a Republican, assembled the review team in December after slow progress on restructuring Detroit's sagging finances and operations under an April 2012 consent agreement between the city and Michigan.
"The city continues to struggle mightily beneath the weight of chronic deficits and its long-term liabilities," Ronald Goldsberry, an independent consultant and member of the review team, said in the statement. "Add to the mix a city governance structure that resists meaningful, structural change, and you have what we have deemed a financial emergency."
No other American city in recent decades has faced a decline in population as steep as Detroit's. Once the fifth largest U.S. city that shined as the birthplace of the U.S. automotive industry and Motown music, it now ranks 18th with about 700,000 people. With the exodus of residents and jobs, the city has suffered from declining tax revenue and rising crime while saddled with the infrastructure and labor costs of a bygone era.
(Reporting By Steve Neavling; additional reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Greg McCune and Leslie Adler)
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