By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck’s financial woes made headlines in several metro media outlets this past week.
The reports hinged on a special meeting held Monday to discuss both the future of police and fire service, and a request to have the state perform a preliminary financial review, which is the first step in having a state-appointed emergency financial manager take control of the city.
Well, guess what?
The special meeting turned into a two-hour closed session, at the end of which the council decided to delay taking any action until next week.
City officials have been tight-lipped over what was discussed, but sources tell us there was a significant agreement reached with the police officers’ union as well as a promise from the firefighters’ union to look for cuts into their budget.
Details of the plan are expected to be made public at next Tuesday’s regular city council meeting.
Hamtramck is facing payless paydays in the next few weeks unless the state comes through with the city’s request for a $3 million emergency loan.
The city’s finances took a nosedive in the last couple of years due to cuts in state revenue and the free fall in property values, which affect how much the city collects in property taxes.
City officials say they need to bridge a looming $3 million deficit in the budget, which they hope to achieve through contract concessions from city employees, including police officers and firefighters, and finding new revenue streams.
There has also been talk of contracting out police and fire services, although it’s a topic that city officials concede would not sit well with the public.
Hamtramck is not alone in facing financial troubles. Many communities and public school districts are suffering from gaping budget deficits. Allen Park is talking about shutting down its police and fire services and contracting with another community to take over those duties.
According to our sources, the concessions by the police and fire departments would still fall $1 million short of balancing the budget.