A familiar problem faces the city


By Charles Sercombe
The City of Hamtramck is once again facing a financial challenge.
Scratch that. It’s a crisis.
At last week’s city council meeting, City Manager Kathy Angerer didn’t mince her words on how bad it is.
Here’s the short list of what’s looming ahead:
o Next year’s budget will not include a federal grant that currently covers the salaries of firefighters. The city had received this grant for the last several years. Angerer said the city received $575,000 for the 2018-19 budget year from this grant, but she noted the amount changed from year to year.
Angerer said the city no longer qualifies for the grant because the qualifications to receive it have changed. The grant, she said, is now only going to cities with volunteer departments or those that are adding additional employees.
o GM is expected to close its Poletown Plant, which will mean a $760,000 a year hit to the budget.
o A long-standing Community Development Block Grant has been reformatted, which will result in a loss of $100,000 per year that went to pay for code enforcement.
o In three years, Wayne County is expected to transfer prisoners from its Hamtramck jail to the new one being built in Detroit. The upshot: A loss of $1.1 million a year.
o Over the next seven years, city employee payroll will increase by 7 percent, and the total cost of their health insurance will go up by 30 percent.
o According to Angerer, if the city does not make adjustments to its budget, there will be an $11 million deficit by 2023. The city’s annual budget is about $16 million.
o On top of that, the city is always vulnerable to lawsuits and “other hidden costs,” Angerer said.
A year ago, the city boasted of having a $5 million budget surplus. This past year, Angerer said, she has already had to dip into that cushion to cover costs.
In the meantime, she is teaming up with the public school district, to see if the city and district can pool services to save on costs.
Angerer challenged the city council and the mayor to “put on your thinking caps” to come up with solutions.
“We have to address this together,” she added.
Hamtramck has a history of falling into financial trouble. The state has twice stepped in and appointed an emergency manager to take control of the city’s finances.
Local control was returned four years ago.

Feb. 22, 2019


Edited for clarity on Feb. 22, 2019

13 Responses to A familiar problem faces the city

  1. Huh?

    February 25, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    This is why you don’t hire a city manager with zero experience running a city. A fraction of the council had opportunity to keep or hire an experienced city manager but instead decided to hire a puppet instead.

    You need a city manager that has there own answers that they can present to the council. Not expect the council to bail her out. If the council knew how to run a city there would be no need to pay Kathy all that money.

    So glad we gave her a contract longer than 2 years. I feel bad for the retired workers when the city goes through bankruptcy because there will be no state bailout or emergency declared when the fund balance is negative.

  2. Nasr

    February 25, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Previous city managers where hired by qualified search firms and chosen to run this city.

    Guess what? The city still went bankrupt quite a few times.

    I assure you that if the city changes its archaic rules and regulations and not be afraid to take the right decisions, this bust will turn into a boom.

    How can a city that sends letters to people, as soon as they move to Hamtramck, threatening them with arrest and fines because their names were not found in past year’s income tax rolls ever succeed?

  3. Reader

    February 25, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Which previous managers were hired by firms, and what firms did the hiring?

  4. Nasr

    February 26, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Bill Cooper was one. ended up being fired by city council for his “miserable” performance.

    Having experience running cities isn’t enough to save Hamtramck from bankruptcy.

    Any candidates proposed by any search firms are not worth it. If they were that good, they would’ve never been let go in the first place from their old position.

  5. Informed

    February 27, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Bill Cooper was not fired for his performance. He was fired because he tried to fire the Jim Allen law firm (Allen Bros). The result of firing him cost the city a couple hundred thousand dollars as a result of improper termination due to a lawsuit.

  6. Nasr

    February 27, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    The city council held a special meeting and fired City Manager Bill Cooper.

    Although Cooper’s firing was sudden, it was not surprising. As the city’s financial crisis grew in the last few months, so had criticism of how Cooper was handling it. His firing was precipitated by a memo he sent to city employees saying that, come the end of April, there would be payless paydays for the next three months.

    Leading the charge against Cooper has been Councilmember Jankowski, who for the past few months needled Cooper for failing to provide various pieces of financial information.

    “Our administration, we hired, did not do the job,” Jankowski said.

    He later went on to add: “We need leadership in the administration that will perform more professionally.”


  7. nasr hussain

    March 4, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Another example of how this city is managed. Practically all city officials got a discount on their property tax evaluations while the rest of people residing in this city got non justified increase.

    What a miserable administration.

    Mr. Sercombe, what happened to your investigative skills?

  8. Resident

    March 4, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Who got discounts on their property tax evaluations and how do you know this? Do you have any proof?

  9. nasr hussain

    March 5, 2019 at 10:13 am

  10. nasr hussain

    March 5, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Mrs. Majewski
    Her building went down to $42,600 from $45,000 while her building on Jos. Campau went down to $37,400 from $42,600.

    Mr. Almasmari: His building on Conant went down to $46,500 from $69,300.

    Mr. Anam Miah, His house on prescott went down to $30,400 from $35,000.

    In addition to major landlords, liquor stores and other commercial properties holders. All went down.

    While most ordinary people have their properties assessed much higher.

    For me personally, it has increased by around 5000 last year and 3000 this year.

    Something very strange is going on. An investigation has to be started.

  11. Nasr Hussain

    March 5, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Taking into consideration that the city is facing a financial crisis and that property values are going up in Hamtramck. What’s happening is very very strange.

    Listed for 350,000

    while assessment went down by around $2500 this year (TCV 68,000 only)

  12. Roadman

    March 5, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    What about all of the lawsuit payouts made recently?

    Check out these gems:

    At the 2/26/9 City Council meeting $100,000.00 was authorized to be paid to Monique Mays in a federal lawsuit against the City of Hamtramck, Officers Michael Matchett and Ryan Young (Case No. 2:16-cv-13882).

    Also at the 2/26/2019 City Council meeting an additional $25,000.00 authorized to be paid to DeJuan Smith arising out of the same incident alleging police misconduct.

  13. Nasr

    March 5, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    It seems these assessments were for last year. Let’s see what’s going to happen this year, an increase or further decrease.

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