By Charles Sercombe
With Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and his City Council fighting about finances, Hamtramck City Councilmember Cathie Gordon saw an opportunity.
“Why not strike while the iron’s hot?” is how she described her plan to step up Hamtramck’s dispute with Bing’s administration over tax revenues from GM’s Poletown plant.
First some background: Hamtramck and Detroit share tax revenue from the plant, with Hamtramck receiving about $2 million a year. But last year, Bing’s administration said the agreement ended in 2006.
Hamtramck officials say that if the agreement does end — which they say it doesn’t — it would end in 2014.
In the meantime, Detroit has withheld last year’s money as well as this year’s payment. Hamtramck is seeking $3 million from Detroit.
City Manager Bill Cooper has met with Bing’s administration, as well as Bing himself, to discuss the matter. Bing has ordered an audit of the agreement, which is due by the end of July.
But Hamtramck can’t wait that long, city officials say. Cooper said that Hamtramck will go bankrupt by next January and will then likely be placed under state receivership.
Councilmember Gordon suggested going to the Detroit City Council on Tuesday since Detroit councilmembers are already upset about Bing’s budget proposal. Detroit councilmembers told Hamtramck officials they were unaware of Hamtramck’s dispute and seemed to be sympathetic.
Gordon said she made an emotional “pitch” to the Detroit Council and warned them that if Hamtramck doesn’t get the money, “the city will go belly-up.”
Cooper was invited back on Wednesday to speak with the council’s finance committee.
In a Channel 7 interview with Bing on Tuesday evening, Bing claimed he was unaware of the dispute with Hamtramck.
Cooper said that’s “untrue.”
“That raises some questions in my mind,” he said. “We met with the special assistant of Bing and met with Bing.”
Detroit’s City Council could decide to override Bing and restore the payments. The council has already rejected Bing’s recent budget proposal saying the mayor failed to make enough cuts.