By Charles Sercombe
What does the mayor and a majority of city councilmembers have to say about the financial recovery plan that was proposed by the emergency manager?
At Tuesday’s city council meeting Councilmembers Robert Zwolak and Cathie Gordon proposed a resolution of support of the plan, but it was voted down by their colleagues in a 4-2 vote.
Mayor Karen Majewski, who was not required to vote on the matter, volunteered that she was also against it.
“I was not satisfied with the level of detail or proof,” Majewski said of the projected cuts.
Majewski even went further saying that when Emergency Manager Cathy Square was asked questions about her plan at a town hall meeting the week before, she did not answer “accurately or truthfully.”
The main rub for the councilmembers was over what is likely the most controversial part that calls for imposing a one-time only tax millage on property owners.
Square’s plan includes a 7 mill tax to raise $1.2 million for the city employee pension fund.
Councilmember Mohammed Hassan said that before considering a tax Square should first restructure the Fire Department, which he said is currently budgeted at $5 million and should be reduced to $3 million.
Councilmember Anam Miah agreed, saying that the reason the council asked for an emergency manager was because the council did not have the legal authority to override the contracts for firefighters and police officers.
He added that the costs for both departments are “90 percent of the problem.”
Councilmember Abdul Algazali said it’s unfair to add a tax when people are “struggling to pay water bills.”
Algazali has consistently voted against any proposal to raise taxes or fees to help balance the budget. His opposition, however, presents an irony in that it was recently discovered that he is delinquent in property taxes on four buildings he owns, to the tune of $17,000.
His tax delinquency could mean he violated the city charter, and he could be tossed out of office for violating it.
Algazali finished number one in the mayoral primary election held a few weeks ago.
Also in opposition to the financial plan was Councilmember Tom Jankowski, who said he thought part of the plan was “vague.” He also said the resolution is “useless” since the state is not asking city officials to support it.
Emergency Manager Square was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.
Councilmember Zwolak said he proposed the resolution as a show of “cooperation” and to “give full support to the emergency manager.”
Mayor Majewski said Square doesn’t need the council’s blessing.
“The emergency manager knows we want to work with her,” she added.
August 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm
This reminds me of some song lyrics…..”you can’t always get what you want.” The borderline mentally handicapped city council and mayor don’t agree with the EM’s plan? Wow, there’s a surprise. You mean the idiots that ran this city into the control of the state are upset that the state doesn’t want to follow their advice? These geniuses were sold on the idea that the state was going to just come in and bust unions and give them control again in a few days. Maybe, just maybe the EM has a bit more brains than the previous power holders in the city. Or maybe she has found out that the financial picture isn’t as bleak as originally thought. The funny thing to me is how these council members have it set in their heads that police and fire, more notably fire are the problems in the city and not their mismanagement. Or maybe she sees the need for a fully funded police and fire department so we don’t end up like Highland Park or Detroit. Or is it possible that the city has just been overspending in every other area? Bottom line is the Council and Mayor all wanted the state in here and now they are unhappy with the decisions being made. You were warned……Be careful what you wish for.
September 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm
Doug, I also warned council against asking the state to bring in an EM. Not that their wishes made any difference to the state anyway–it was an empty resolution. (I did not have a vote on that matter myself, since there was no tie to break.) I have several issues with the EM’s plan and with several statements she made in the “public hearing”–I preferred the plans that were put together by our acting city managers but council chose not to approve them. Now their approval or disapproval doesn’t matter–it’s in someone else’s hands. This was another empty resolution, which I did not have the power by city charter to vote on. But I did not hear clear (or in some cases, truthful) answers to the questions from community members at the public hearing. That is the basis of my unwillingness to voice approval for the plan.