$1M check written to Detroit sat in drawer for about a month - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

$1M check written to Detroit sat in drawer for about a month

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Spirit of Detroit statue Spirit of Detroit statue
DETROIT (WJBK) -

A few months back in February, a fair amount of funds found its way to Detroit.

"Normal payment that comes in from the schools," said Bill Nowling, the spokesperson for the city's emergency manager.

It was a check for $1 million that never got cashed. So what happened to that check from DPS?

"It got overlooked," Nowling said.

Come to find out the check was found in a drawer, and it had been there for more than a few minutes.

"It was about a month," Nowling said.

This kind of financial fiasco unfortunately does not stand alone.

"The other day I had a friend of mine say that he came to the city-county building to deliver a $25,000 check, and they closed the door in his face and told him that they were going to lunch for an hour," said Chief Compliance Officer Gary Brown.

"Income tax checks that sat on the floor for weeks because someone was on vacation, and we just didn't have the staffing to process that paperwork."

Wait, the city is broke, broker than broke, bankrupt, wouldn't you want every bit of dough you could get?

"Systems are broken in the City of Detroit, financial systems that are standard operating procedures in a normal business or a normal municipality. Normal is not the case in the City of Detroit, but we're getting there," Brown said.

According to Brown and Nowling, those money mishaps should never happen again because a new procedure is now in place.

"All the checks go immediately into the bank, and then we'll sort out what accounts they go into after that," Nowling said.

Under the direction of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and his team, Detroit is starting to modernize its systems and equipment, focusing on some key words -- efficiency and accountability.

"We are fixing the HR issues. We are fixing the IT issues. We're fixing issues in the Law Department, as well as Purchasing and Procurement that support the departments that deliver the service," Brown said.

He added measures are being put in place every single day to restructure the city. You may not see it now, although you will soon.

What's on the horizon?

"Privatize garbage collection, and we think that we're going to be able to do that to improve service, to improve bulk service to once a week instead of once a month or once a quarter so that we can clean up the neighborhoods," Nowling said. "Brought in a new management firm to manage DDOT that has extensive experience in municipal bus management."

There is also good news for public safety. We were told turnout gear for firefighters is on the way. 50 new police cruisers are coming, in addition to those from Penske, plus 50 more from a federal grant are being outfitted right now, not to mention 300 new bullet proof vests and TASERs, too.

"We're going to be tearing down houses, blighted houses in the Brightmoor district starting on the 26th of this month, and people have already seen some cleanup go on there. Now we're going to see some of those blighted structures come down," Nowling said. "We're going to start hanging lights hopefully by the time school starts so that we have lights in place, especially around schools so when it gets dark in the fall that those lights will be working. You're going to start seeing things happen in the city that we've been talking about."

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