By Charles Sercombe
As communities across the state scramble to figure out ways to cut costs, more and more are turning to offering services four days a week instead of five.
Oak Park does it. Ferndale, too. And now, Dearborn Heights as well as others.
Hamtramck, like many communities in the state, is reeling from cuts in state funding and falling tax revenue. Hamtramck has lost $600,000 in state revenue sharing this year, and it could lose hundreds of thousands more if it fails to comply with strict new financial rules set by Gov. Snyder.
Even if the city meets all of its financial challenges, revenue will fall short in the next year or two.
So, will Hamtramck consider closing down City Hall on a Monday or Friday?
City Manager Bill Cooper said that wouldn’t really save money. Cities that do operate only four days a week still pay their employees to work 40 hours per week. Instead of working a fifth day, they work 10-hour days, four days a week.
Public employees are usually guaranteed full-time work in their contracts, although some cities have tried to impose an involuntary pay cut. Cooper said cities that do that usually end up losing in arbitration.
The savings comes from shutting down utilities in City Hall.
The problem with Hamtramck’s City Hall, Cooper said, is that the Police Department operates in it, as well as the district court. Even if the district court agreed to scale down to a four-day work week, the police station would still eat up heating and cooling costs.
Cooper said that recent state legislation that changes pension obligations and requires public employees to kick in at least 20 percent of their health insurance have helped the city save money.
As for the future, Cooper said he hopes he doesn’t have to resort to “the drastic stage” by demanding deeper wage cuts.