By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck has a new city manager.
As expected, Katrina Powell has been hired and started this past Monday. Her contract is for two-and-a-half years.
Powell comes in as Emergency Manager Cathy Square is about to leave her position next Thursday (Dec. 18).
While Square had the final say-so in hiring Powell, she told The Review she followed the advice of city council and Mayor Karen Majewski.
“The mayor and council liked her, and I wanted somebody they wanted to work with,” Square said. “I hope they have a better relationship than they did with some of the other city managers.”
Prior to Square taking control of the city 18 months ago, the city went through five city managers in about a two-month span.
Powell was one of four candidates seeking the job of city manager. She comes from Florida, where she was last city manager for the city of Longwood from 2009-2011.
She was also city manager for Fort Meade and an assistant to the city manager for Deltona. Her background also includes 20 years with the military. For the past three years she has operated a fleet service that leases cars for undercover operations.
Since starting on Monday, Powell has filled her days meeting with staff and getting up to speed on city issues, she said.
“As the newly appointed City Manager, I’m excited about working with the community, the elected officials and city staff in continuing to maintain and enhance the current financial stability of the city, while creating a long-term economic development/strategic plan that will further improve the finances and the way of life for residents, business owners and visitors of Hamtramck,” Powell said in an e-mail.
“Like other cities in Michigan, Hamtramck is in a positive transition, whereby it achieved a clean slate financially with the diligence of the community, an Emergency Manager, elected officials and city staff; we must persevere in building on that success moving forward, ensuring future stability and growth. Together, we can make positive change happen, and I’m delighted to have been chosen to lead that charge for the future.”
Powell’s first meeting with the city council Tuesday night was rocky, to say the least. The meeting abruptly broke up when Councilmembers Andrea Karpinski and Robert Zwolak walked out of the meeting to create a lack of quorum.
Their departure prevented a vote on what has become a highly controversial policy for naming streets in honor of people. Powell did not speak up on the issue.
On the plus side, Powell is walking into the job with the city’s finances on firm footing. There is a $2 million budget surplus, and labor contracts set for the next two years.
Powell will be paid $115,000 a year plus $500 a month for car allowance.
According to the city charter, Powell has to move either in the city or at least within 30 miles of Hamtramck.