City could face a financial blow

City Manager Katrina Powell

City Manager Katrina Powell

By Charles Sercombe
If the city manager’s position is not filled by the time her contract expires in June, there could be a hefty cost to the city.
That was the warning at Tuesday’s Receivership Transition Advisory Board (RTAB) meeting.
Debra Roberts, the Chairman of the Board, read a note from the state Treasury Department reminding the city council that it has a $2 million emergency loan from the state.
That loan comes with a stipulation, Roberts said. Unless the city employs a “full-time, professional administrator,” there could be an increase in the loan’s interest rate and also an earlier due date.
Mark Stema, a member of the RTAB and a city resident, said an interim or acting city manager does not qualify as a full-time administrator.
The loan, which was secured by the city’s former emergency manager, is scheduled to be paid back by 2024.
In February, a bare majority of the city council rejected a resolution to have the city attorney begin contract negotiations with City Manager Katrina Powell. Instead, the council is seeking to hire a company to conduct a search.
Typically it takes about four months for a search to be completed. The request for bids from search companies has not yet been made public.
The RTAB would have to agree to any contract for a search firm, and could conceivably reject it. At this point it looks unlikely that the council will have a full-time city manager in place by the time Powell’s contract expires.

Powell’s contract is for two-and-a-half years. She was hired over two years ago by former Emergency Manager Cathy Square, who invited the council to give their input on several candidates vying for the job.
The council gave a thumbs up to hiring Powell, but not long after taking the job some on council butted heads with her. Councilmember Anam Miah has been the most vocal critic of Powell.
Miah and Councilmembers Mohammed Hassan, Abu Musa and Saad Almasmari voted against contract negotiations with Powell, but that vote had some confusing moments.
Before the vote Almasmari said he had been pleased with Powell’s job.
Councilmember Hassan shrugged his shoulders and said he rejected contract negotiations just to see what the RTAB would do next.
There has been speculation that the RTAB might overstep the council and extend Powell’s contract, but there has been no such action taken.
At Tuesday’s meeting RTAB Chairman Roberts noted that the council had “backed itself into a corner” by rejecting contract negotiations with Powell.
The council could still take that action, but it would require one of the councilmembers who voted against the resolution seeking contract negotiations with Powell to bring back the proposal.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, held after the RTAB meeting, Powell read the noted from the Treasury Department. Both Miah and Hassan were absent from the meeting. Councilmembers Almasmari and Musa did not comment on the warning.
The city could pay back the $2 million loan from its budget surplus. But with pension costs requiring an additional $200,000 to $300,000 each year, the city would soon fall into deficit spending.
That could then cause another financial crisis requiring state intervention. Hamtramck has twice required a state-appointed emergency manager in the last 15 years.

14 Responses to City could face a financial blow

  1. Neighbor

    March 31, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Money saved by having a competent manager, whose decisions will save money paid in lawsuits, will pay for the loan.

  2. Someone

    April 1, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Neighbor, what makes the current manager not competent? And how would the city save money? Lawsuits are expensive to defend or settle, a different manager won’t change that.

  3. Neighbor

    April 4, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    What has she done to consider her competent?

    Fired a competent police chief who was very active in the community and increase police enforcement in Hamtramck and replaced him with a much less qualified one causing more crime and lawsuits as a result of this replacement.

    or: Solved basement flooding problem.

    or: Lowered water rates (probably one of the highest in Michigan)

    or: Fixed the streets.

    or: Lowered real estate values ( except for “certain” people)

  4. guest

    April 4, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Wasted more than 200k of city’s money on a case that was settled for 75k.

  5. Suggestion

    April 7, 2017 at 12:21 am

    I would suggest that city employees and officials be given an evaluation questionnaire to evaluate her performance and take decision based upon this questionnaire.

  6. Guest

    April 7, 2017 at 1:07 am

    City manager got deceitful information regarding wonderment of parenandconcern about marijuana smike effect on their childrens’ growing brain, and, hardly any drug crimes in T H R crime log. Best of luck, blessings, and experience matters. Hamtramck Treasuer merits city manager post. Why pay a search committee. Mayor: Appoint him, please!

  7. Ken Hissong

    April 7, 2017 at 9:17 am

    There are a number of questions that need to be answered in regard to the opposition to City Manager Powell by the four male councilmembers. Is it possible that they remain ignorant of efforts by Ms. Powell to straighten out the city’s finances? Or is it possible that it is because they don’t like taking advice from a woman? Just asking.

  8. Stan Zelmanski

    April 8, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Several reasons that the four “male” City Council members included public pressure from their Arab and Muslim constituents over the multiple civil rights lawsuits filed against the city due to alleged police misconduct committed during Powell’s tenure. Councilman Almasmari gave this reason to Powell in open session as a reason he was voting against Powell for a contract renewal.

    Civil rights lawsuits have cost the city many hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees and costs the last few years and have been a gold mine to the Giarmarco Mullins & Horton law firm that Powell has had a cozy relationship with. J Travis Mihelick, a young associate attorney, was recently elevated to partner at that firm partly due to all the fees he was generating from Hamtramck.

    Katrina Powell has had an atrocious relationship with the city’s vendors that led to problems including an $800,000 breach of contract suit by CPI Excavating, who claimed their contract was wrongfully terminated. That suit has cost the city oodles of money in legal fees as it is being defended by the Giarmarco firm.

    Powell appointed Anne Moise as police chief without advice or approval of City Council and Moise is currently a defendant in a number of civil rights suits.

    Powell’s departure on June 30th will be a very positive event for Hamtramck residents and a cause for celebration.

  9. Actual resident

    April 9, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Stan Zelmanski is so obviously a fake name intended to make the commentor look like a regular old Polish resident that nothing he says can be taken seriously.

    Were the officers involved in the lawsuits hired by Moise or were they trash that she inherited and was forced to clean up?

    If Garbarino was fired without cause then why hasn’t he filed a wrongful termination suit?

    This Zalewski person acts like every lawsuit that is filed has merit. Anyone can file a lawsuit. If the city doesn’t fight frivolous suits and settles them instead it only invites more.

    The amount of money it costs to defend the suits is a non story. The real story is Shaya and his bullshit crybaby lawsuits that hold the city back.

    The city has improved with Powell. Roads were fixed and the basement flooding issue has finally been addressed. Housing values have gone up. And the water rates are being evaluated. Hard to do that when major users of water like the jail didn’t even have a water meter installed. Wasn’t Shaya in charge of the DPW/Water department? How did he let the jail go years with an uninstalled meter?

    And these guys want to spend $2 million so they can fire Powell? What kind of idiots would blow their wad on paying down a 2% interest loan?

    This is so absurd I keep waiting for Allen Funt to pop out and tell me we’re on Candid Camera. I only wish that was the case.

  10. Neighbor

    April 10, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Lie # 1 From the lawsuit

    20. Upon information and belief, Defendant Moise, the Chief of Police of Hamtramck, was at all times the Supervising authority with personal knowledge as to the conduct and allegations of misconduct and racial discrimination of her subordinate Defendant Stout. Defendant Moise woefully failed to engage in any appropriate steps in addressing the illegal conduct of City of Hamtramck police officer Defendant Stout, for which she had a duty, and in fact violated that duty when she was observed to be conspiring and directly benefiting in the illegal conduct and abuse of power by Defendant Stout and his partner Defendant McMahon
    (See Ex. A – John Doe v. Detective McMahon et. al paragraph 90)

    Lie #2
    She has solved basement flooding problem? Are you kidding !!!!?

    Lie #3
    Garbarino firing. If without cause, she is incompetent. If with cause, she has sheltered a criminal..both cases incompetent.

    Lie #4
    Roads are fixed?!!!! ..just drive around Hamtramck and see for yourself

    Lie #5
    Lawsuits were frivolous, apparently the justice system did not think so. and if the justice system is incompetent then settle theses lawsuits ( 75k is much less than 200k)

    Lie #6
    Jail not paying water bills? They do from as far back as 2011 as shown in the website.

    Lie #6
    Caused higher real estate values? Not her, all real estate values have gone up in metro Detroit in addition to refugees settling in Hamtramck and causing real estate boom.

  11. Guest

    April 12, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    The real unsung heroes behind the financial surplus are the silent Hamtramck residents whose real property and water rates have gone through the roofs.

  12. guest

    April 12, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Raising propert taxes is the only thing she is good at, that’s why she is hiring another assesor to raise them higher and higher.

  13. Johnny Apollo

    April 21, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    So-Called Chief Garbarino voluntarily resigned in shame, and disgrace. He didn’t
    have enough time to actually retire, so there is an underlying reason that forced him out.

    Chief Garbarino actually placed Off. Stout into this position, giving him the position, and overseeing any misconduct. Chief Moise only came in at the end of his tyranny.

    Cathy Square was not only the City’s emergency manager, but she was also in charge of the dpw/water department. Why didn’t she discover that the City hadn’t been collecting appropriate water fees from not only the jail, but numerous other commercial accounts years ago?

    Lawsuits are merely allegations, and often times it is more cost effective to settle them without assuming the astronomical costs of going to trial.

  14. Uncle Cooter

    April 23, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Despite the various federal lawsuits alleging various types of police misconduct, it should be noted that Sgt. Stout remains on the job patrolling Hamtramck streets while in uniform – he has been re-assigned from the Detective Bureau. No court has found him liable in these regards and he is being defended by the Giarmarco law firm for the City of Hamtramck. He is not facing any internal affairs charges nor has any disciplinary action been officially taken against him arising out of the John Doe case referenced above.

    Former Chief Maxwell Garbarino was never named as a defendant in the federal cases involving John Doe – but Anne Moise has.

    Former Hamtramck P.D. Officer Ron Dupuis has just been named as a defendant in a recent civil rights lawsuit filed by a female detective in Highland Park where Dupuis now works – but no news coverage on that. The Giarmarco firm is defending him.

    All these officers have a presumption of innocence and are entitled to their day in court.

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