By Charles Sercombe
That didn’t take long.
The Michigan Department of Treasury issued a press release today (Friday, March 2) announcing that local control has been fully returned to Hamtramck.
In other words, the city has been “released” from receivership. This action came on the heels of the state-appointed Receivership Transition Advisory Board voting to dissolve itself at its regular monthly meeting just this past Tuesday.
At the time it was unclear how long it would take for the state to follow-up and restore local control. Friday’s press release reiterated many of the reasons the RTAB decided to end its supervision of the city.
The main goal of financial stability has been met. The city now has a budget surplus of $6.5 million.
“Today marks an important achievement for Hamtramck residents, the city and all who have contributed to moving the city back to a path of fiscal stability,” said State Treasurer Nick Khouri in Friday’s press release. “I am pleased to say the city is released from receivership.”
The city has been under state oversight since 2014. That’s when an emergency manager was appointed to take control of the city. Emergency Manager Cathy Square stayed for 18 months and then appointed a city manager to take over.
That city manager, Katrina Powell, ended her relationship with the city when her employment contract ran out last June.
Another goal of the state intervention was to somehow change the city’s volatile political climate. That task, however, proved to be elusive at best. There is still plenty of political division in the city.
That division rose up sharply when a bare majority on city council refused to extend Powell’s employment contract, and then most recently when almost the same bare majority on council refused to hire a city manager two weeks ago.
Acting City Manager Kathy Angerer has been running the city in the meantime. Angerer told The Review previously that she has been working with state officials closely since she took the acting city manager role last July.
She said her main objective was to return local control to the city.
In the state’s press release, Mayor Karen Majewski said she is optimistic about the city’s future.
“Hamtramck is in a great position for solid growth in the future,” Majewski said. “I am pleased with the progress the city has made and ready to move forward.”