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City had no choice in issuing employee furloughs

Tough times call for tough decisions.
Last week, the city furloughed 27 employees and cut the fire chief’s full-time position to part-time, and also reduced his yearly wages by half.
For some in the community, this move was an outrage.
We can understand that. People’s livelihoods are at stake.
But during this layoff, they can collect unemployment, along with an unprecedented weekly boost of $600, thanks to the federal government.
As soon as city hall can re-open, the employees will be called back. At least that’s the plan – anything can change this scenario, as the city’s financial picture worsens.
If you take a cold, hard look at the situation, the city had little choice: revenue has dried up. For example, people are not paying their income tax, which would have been due by now. The deadline to file has been pushed back to July.
Normally, the city would have about $3 million now from that revenue stream. There are also no code inspections going on now, which is another revenue stream that had dried up.
The 31st District Court has seen far fewer cases, and thus revenue from fines has also dried up.
In the meantime, the city is hemorrhaging money by providing employee salaries, health care and pension payments.
It should be noted that department heads have taken a 5 percent pay cut, and City Manager Kathy Angerer reduced her pay by 10 percent.
Hamtramck is not alone in making these cuts. Several other cities have issued furloughs to alleviate their financial shortages.
These are trying times for the city, the state and the nation. We have not experienced such a financial upheaval for generations. But the country – and this city – has a track record of eventually bouncing back – although it’s always a painful journey.
Will things ever get back to normal? That’s a question many are asking, and the consensus is, “no.”
Whatever we return to, it’s going to be a new era, and you can bet that more sacrifices will have to be made.
Posted May 8, 2020

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