City Hall … 3/10/23

By Charles Sercombe
The city council met on Feb. 28, and all councilmembers, except for Khalil Refai, were present.
A presentation was made about design options for the Joe Louis Greenway biking/walking path that connects Hamtramck to Detroit and Dearborn.
The path will be 27 miles long. The projected cost for the entire project is $240 million, of which $143 million has already been committed by a variety of financial sources, including federal, state and county grants.
Grants from private sources have also been contributed.
Mayor Amer Ghalib said there are some business owners on Jos. Campau who have complained about losing parking spaces for bike lanes.
City Manager Max Garbarino suggested the council form a subcommittee to study the design proposals.
Garbarino said the project began several years ago, and he realizes that some business owners “are taking exception with it.”
City Clerk Rana Faraj gave her department’s annual report for 2022. Here are the highlights:
The city issued 128 new business licenses. In total, there were 545 business licenses issued.
There are 14,107 registered voters. In th e last general election, 4,516 voters participated. The city now prints ballots in three languages: English, Bengali and Arabic.

The state recently passed a proposal that has made some changes in elections, which included:
• There will be a nine-day early voting period.
• Military and overseas ballots will be counted if postmarked by or on election day.
• Securing polling places and preventing intimidating or harassing behaviors inside and in the vicinity of them, as well as continuing to provide a voting opportunity absent practices that have “the intent or effect of denying, abridging, interfering with, or unreasonably burdening the fundamental right to vote.”
The Building Department also presented its annual report for 2022. Highlights include:
• Some 1,609 permits were issued, mostly to residential locations – or in other words, home improvements.
• Those permits generated $410,581 in fees
• There were 726 residential rental dwellings registered, down from 929 registered in 2019.
• Fees from those permits totaled $248,135. The total revenue from all services is $753,380.
The department wants to take the following steps to increase rental registration with the following:
o Coordinate with the assessor’s office
o Water service records
o Reviewing rental services, such as Zillow
o Building code enforcement patrols
o Use interns to catalog dwellings with multiple addresses

A proclamation was read honoring Women’s History Month. It said, in part:
“Hamtramck women of every race, class, and ethnic background have made historic contributions to the growth and strength of our city, State and Nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways; and Hamtramck women have played and continue to play critical political, economic, cultural, and social roles by constituting a significant portion of our labor force working inside and outside of the home;
“… and in Hamtramck, women have played a unique role throughout the history of the nation by providing the majority of the volunteer labor force, and when called upon, the manufacturing labor force; and women were particularly important in the establishment of early charitable, philanthropic, and cultural institutions in Hamtramck and across the country. …”

Another proclamation was read that opposed U.S. military aid being provided to “repressive governments.”
Before reading the proclamation, Mayor Ghalib said that there had been discussion among councilmembers over the wording of it, but he did not go into specifics.
He said he tried to “modify the language but it didn’t work out.”
Again, he did not elaborate, although some in the community believed it had something to do with Councilmember Amanda Jaczkowski resigning.
The proclamation did not name any specific country, but it did mention the plight of Palestinians and to some, implied Israel. The proclamation read, in part:
“The City of Hamtramck believes that the Palestinian people should enjoy the right of self-determination that comes with having a free, peaceful and secure homeland of their own; and the City of Hamtramck stands against occupation of any country and supports the right of every occupied nation to gain freedom, sovereignty and independence;
“… and U.S. military aid to foreign governments has enriched defense contractors at the expense of struggling cities like Hamtramck while threatening the safety and security of the people in the region and elsewhere.”

Later in the meeting, during public comment, former Councilmember Carrie Beth Lasley said the proclamation is “anti-Semitic.”
She said the action is proving the accusation of “Islamaphobes” about how the council would act. She said the council is “playing into the stereotypes” of an all Muslim city government.
Lasley questioned what comes next: the closing of bars and the imposition of Sharia law?
Bill Meyer took issue with those observations, saying criticizing the actions of the state of Israel is not anti-Semitic. He also noted that he does not approve of people from outside of the city urging the council to make the proclamation.
Activists from Ann Arbor had urged the council to pass a resolution calling for the end of military aid being sent to Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians.
Lasley also said she opposes the salary being proposed to pay City Manager Garbarino. She said it’s $20,000 more than what the job posting said the salary would be.
A man said the council should now include Israel in its proclamation about “repressive governments” since Councilmember Jaczkowski resigned.
Another man said the city needs to plant more trees despite some opposition in the city, and also install more bike racks.
City Manager Garbarino said the city is working on a major grant for tree planting.

Two members of the city’s Downtown Development Authority urged the council to approve a proposed tax abatement deal for the renovation of a Jos. Campau building that has long been vacant and dilapidated.
Bill Meyer said he is against a proposal to increase city council’s annual stipend. He said Hamtramck is a poor city and can’t afford this increase.
He also noted that councilmembers knew what the city paid when they ran for office.
On the tax abatement proposal a public hearing was held. It was explained that a major state grant to help renovate the building requires the city to grant the abatement.
The abatement would freeze the current tax rate of over $3,000 a year for up to 12 years. Once the abetment period ends, the city would collect over $8,000 a year in property taxes.
The building, at 9350 Jos. Campau, will be a micro-beer brewery and taproom. The project would result in jobs for construction workers and workers at the taproom.
The council decided to limit the abatement to four years.
Nasr Hussain spoke against the tax abatement, saying if the current building owner can’t afford to pay for the repairs, he should sell it to someone who can.
The council accepted the resignation of Councilmember Jaczkowski. The council also postponed voting on a proposed employment contract for City Manager Garbarino.
Posted March 8, 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *