What is our City Council up to these days? We have the highlights of the latest council meeting.
By Charles Sercombe
The city council met on July 12, and all councilmembers were in attendance, except for Councilmembers Adam Albarmaki and Khalil Refai.
Wayne County Commissioner Martha Scott, whose district includes Hamtramck, credited City Manager Kathy Angerer for “all the things she had done.”
(Angerer was about to resign and take a new job with the state.)
A presentation was made about the city’s pension fund with the Municipal Retirement System.
Sue Feinberg said that, as of June, the city’s funding level was at 45 percent, and that, by August of next year, that level will increase to 60 percent.
“You’re moving in the right direction,” Feinberg said.
She said that it will take the city 17 years to pay off the fund and that the city is likely to qualify for a $17.6 million grant to help with pension funding.
“There are a lot of bugs to work out,” Feinberg said about qualifying for the grant.
Angerer said that news of the city being in line to receive the grant “is one of the things that help me leave Hamtramck in a good place.”
Councilmember Amanda Jaczkowski said “It’s nice to hear good news.”
During public comment, Mark Koroi said that with Angerer leaving, Hamtramck is now at a “crossroad.”
He also noted that longtime City Attorney James Allen is also leaving. Koroi, an attorney, volunteered to be considered as a replacement for Allen.
“I know the city like the back of my hand,” said Koroi, who has been involved in past lawsuits filed against the city.
Barbara Beesley said she is part of a water board that is working toward making residential water bills affordable.
(After a two-year hiatus on residential water shutoffs, due to the pandemic, the city has resumed that practice.)
A man also spoke about the effort, saying “water is a human right.”
A resident, who identified herself as a renter, spoke about a proposal to update the city’s rental inspection ordinance. The council is considering extending city rental inspections to every three years.
The resident objected to lengthening the time for inspections because it could lead to unsafe conditions.
The proposal, she said, will “negatively impact renters. … We should have more inspections.”
The proposal was made by Councilmember Mohammed Alsomiri. The issue came up for further discussion later in the meeting.
A representative of Hamtramck Mutual Aid said the program needs volunteers to do yard work for seniors.
Bill Meyer said that work will begin to create a park next to a mural celebrating the Yemeni community at Goodson and Jos. Campau.
A man who identified himself as a local Imam objected to a proposal to ban animal sacrifices at residences. He wondered if it was a “political stunt.”
The man also said this would not allow the Muslim community to fully practice their religion.
“Our children will lose our identity,” he said. “Cities are supposed to be sensitive to animal rituals.”
Mayor Ameer Ghalib, a Muslim, said that, while he does not practice this custom, he understands that some people feel “it’s better to do it yourself,” rather than have a butcher do it.
“It’s a moral reward,” Ghalib added.
Councilmember Nayeem Choudhury noted that Muslims only do animal sacrifices once a year.
He said the council should table this proposal for more discussion.
After further discussion, the council agreed to postpone taking a vote on the matter.
In another matter, the council agreed to sell a city lot at 3105 Goodson to allow for the construction of a single-family house.
The council considered whether to purchase five houses, a lot, and a lot with a garage on it, from Wayne County. The properties were lost to tax foreclosure.
The cost of all the properties was $47,116.
Alternatively, the council could decide to let the county put the properties up for bid.
In the past, the city has taken both actions. If the city purchases the properties, it has to come up with a plan on how to dispose of them – either through marketing them, or allowing a developer to rehab and sell them.
Councilmember Choudhury suggested the city should allow the county to sell them off because there would soon be an interim city manager in charge, and that marketing the houses will be a burden.
But the rest of the council decided to purchase all of the properties.
In another action, the council agreed to prioritize which alleys should be reconstructed in the future.
The council then discussed the proposal to have the city manager review whether to increase the inspection time of rental properties by the city from every two years to every three years.
Councilmember Jaczkowski said the city should keep the two-year requirement because it protects renters.
She said that, if landlords can’t afford inspections once every two years, they should sell their properties.
“Two years is not a burden,” Jaczkowski said.
But Councilmember Choudhury said that every two years is too often.
“The landlord suffers a lot,” he said.
By that, he said he means renters often fail to pay their rent, and that inspectors are heavy-handed.
“They find every little thing,” Choudhury said.
Would-be renters, Choudhury said, can do their own inspections before moving in, and “move on” in their search for a place to live if they don’t like a certain house or apartment.
In the vote to have the city manager review the proposal, the council split 2-2. Mayor Ghalib broke the tie by agreeing with those who voted in favor of having the city manager to review proposal.
Those voting for the review were Councilmembers Mohammed Hassan and Choudhury, those opposing the review were Councilmembers Mohammed Alsomiri (who presented the proposal for council’s consideration) and Jaczkowski.
Posted Sept. 10, 2022