By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck’s auto theft investigation unit may be on the financial chopping block.
The possible cut of two investigators is part of the city’s ongoing struggle to make up for a projected $3.3 million budget deficit. The city has already laid off several employees, including the special events coordinator who had been organizing this year’s Hamtramck Labor Day Festival until just several weeks prior to the event.
Although the two auto theft investigators are paid partly through a grant provided by insurance companies, the city is required to kick in $30,000 for each investigator.
City Manager Bill Cooper said the elimination of the squad is because of a lack of money.
“That’s what it comes down to,” he said.
Auto theft is one of the highest number of crimes committed in the city. According to FBI crime statistics for 2008, over 400 vehicles were stolen that year in Hamtramck. Cooper said that unless alternative funding is found soon, the squad will be cut in mid-September.
Police Chief Mark Kalinowski said although he couldn’t discuss the matter in detail, he said he is looking into other revenue sources to save the unit.
Hamtramck’s finances nosedived in the past year due to a dispute with Detroit over how much tax revenue collected from GM’s Poletown plant should be shared.
Hamtramck had been receiving about $3 million a year from Poletown tax revenues. That revenue was stopped last year until the dispute is settled.