DETROIT – Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy, raising a flurry of questions about what happens next. Here’s a look at what’s known about the next steps:
WILL THE LIGHTS GO OUT?
The city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, says the city will be open and bills will be paid. And it can do things like keep police on the streets, firefighters on duty and water running for now. Leaders say the bankruptcy filing will actually allow them to help improve services. But residents aren’t sure if that’s actually the case.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
Detroit is by far the largest city to file for municipal bankruptcy, and because it is, the timeframe for the case isn’t known. It could take years to resolve. Experts also warn the city’s legal bills could double, and creditors’ legal bills also will soar.
WHAT HAPPENS IN COURT?
A bankruptcy judge will be appointed to oversee the case. The city will have to come forward with a list of its creditors and how much it owes them. That wasn’t included in the initial Chapter 9 filing. It will also have to prove that it can’t pay its bills. Orr has said previously that the city wasn’t going to pay some of its debt.
A judge also will likely stay lawsuits against the city. Bankruptcy could mean changes in pension and retiree benefits, which are guaranteed under state law.
WHAT WILL THE JUDGE DO?
If the bankruptcy filing is approved, city assets could be liquidated to satisfy demands for payment. The city would propose a reorganization plan. The wide-ranging plan could include anything from selling assets, layoffs, changing union contracts and more. Then, the city would need the support of creditors to emerge from bankruptcy.