What is our City Council up to these days? We have the scoop and the highlights – as well as the lowlights – of the latest council meeting.
By Charles Sercombe
The City Council met on Aug. 23 with only Councilmember Shahab Ahmed absent. The meeting ran for over two hours.
The meeting was pretty much centered on a complicated procedure involving the city entering into a host agreement with a proposed recycling company, and to also OK two tax abatement agreements.
But before that lengthy discussion took place, the owner of Hamtramck Recycling spoke. Gerald Krueger gave a brief description of his business background and what he hopes to accomplish with his recycling company.
Krueger said he actually has no background in recycling and instead has been building and operating low-income housing apartments in Michigan as well as in eight other states.
He said he got into the recycling business as a way to diversify his business interests.
This recycling operation, however, is no ordinary venture. The company plans to demolish a building at 3300 Denton and build a new facility that features state-of-the-art energy-saving features.
The plant will recycle office and manufacturing items.
Some 30 people will be employed in the plant, which Krueger said he hopes to recruit mostly from Hamtramck. The company is also in line to receive special state funding to offset the cost of demolishing the existing plant at the site, which will require the careful removal of asbestos and other toxins.
The company also asked for two tax abatements for 12 years each. The abatements would freeze property taxes at the current level and give a 100 percent break on equipment installed in the plant.
(The tax break on equipment was a minor point of contention with Councilmember Cathie Gordon.)
Krueger said he had the option to locate the business in several other areas in the metro region but preferred the Hamtramck site and the financial aid deal that the city was able to offer.
Krueger said he plans to be a “long-term corporate citizen.”
So … what could have possibly gone a little haywire in what appeared to be a slam-dunk deal?
Try whether or not to charge the company 25 cents or 50 cents or nothing at all for a “tipping fee” for each ton of recyclable items that is dropped off.
A number of proposals were talked about, and debated, and talked about more and more until finally, yes, finally, the council agreed to charge 25 cents per ton. The estimated tonnage that will be dropped off is 130 tons a day.
Multiply that by five days a week and the city is looking at a whopping $162.50 a week.
That comes out to $8,450 a year, which the city will likely need to sock away to save for eventual street repairs from the heavy truckloads that will be rumbling through town.
Later in the meeting the tax abatements were approved.
So … what else could the council have gotten hung up on? Try garbage cans.
More to the point, a long discussion was held on whether to require households to remove cans from the alley after their scheduled pickup day.
There was a legitimate, and strictly Hamtramckesque, concern about this. Councilmember Catrina Stackpoole argued that some backyards are far too small for the cans, which she described as being big and ugly.
She also pointed out that some older residents have a hard time rolling the cans in and out of the alley. Stackpoole suggested allowing people to keep their cans in the alley.
Well, you’d think a heretic was talking.
City Manager Bill Cooper pointed out that when cans are left out in the alley, they tend to get overfilled. And when cans get overfilled, Cooper said, some residents begin to pile up additional garbage next to the cans and sometimes right on top — thus leading to garbage-strewn alleys.
Stackpoole countered that overflowing garbage cans is a separate issue.
“People can be a little more conscientious about how much trash they’re putting in a landfill,” she said.
(Editor’s note: Or, some people can be beaten over the head with a 2×4 until they “understand” that littering in the alley is unsightly and leads to a rat infestation.)
Apparently, having tired of talkin’ trash, the council agreed to require households to remove their garbage cans from the alley by no later than 9 p.m. on their pickup day.
That’s it for this week.