Hamtramck’s money woes may start cutting deep into the bone.
The Police Department’s two auto theft investigators may have to be eliminated because the city can’t afford to kick in its part of a matching grant. The state’s auto insurance companies have a grant program that gives communities $50,000 for each auto theft officer it assigns.
The cities, in turn, have to make up the difference in salaries, which for Hamtramck is about $30,000 for each officer. This hasn’t been a problem until this year. Hamtramck is facing a $3.3 million debt thanks to a dispute with Detroit over tax revenue sharing with GM’s Poletown plant.
Detroit is withholding $3 million until the dispute is worked out, and if Detroit prevails that means Hamtramck is out $3 million.
In the meantime, Hamtramck has its hands tied and has to come up with ways to cut from the budget.
But there is another way to keep these important jobs. Considering that in 2008, according to the FBI crime statistics for Hamtramck, there were over 400 stolen cars in the city, our elected leaders need to step up.
The City Council, except for Councilmembers Cartrina Stackpoole and Shahab Ahmed and Mayor Karen Majewski, has refused to raise the city’s property tax rate to its legal limit – a mere 2.3 mills.
Any increase above that would require voter approval. If the council were to raise the rate 2.3 mills, an extra $500,000 a year would be generated.
But Councilmembers Tom Jankowski, Mohammed Hassan, Kazi Miah and Cathie Gordon refuse to do the right thing. Some, like Hassan and Miah, ran for office on a platform not to raise taxes.
That’s a cheap and cynical way to get elected to office – and irresponsible. If you want to have a fully functioning city you have to pay your fair share.
As for Gordon and Jankowski, we’re not exactly clear on what their problem is with raising our tax rate.
Yes, it’s an unpopular thing to do with voters but – again – if you want a nice and safe city to live in you have to pay for it.
Because of the refusal of these councilmembers, Hamtramck faces losing its auto theft investigators. Our quality of life is now further imperiled.
And if this city becomes more unsafe, that means our house values will also decline. Hamtramck doesn’t need to become the next Highland Park.
It’s time our elected officials grow some backbone and do the right thing. Otherwise, Hamtramck will be run into the ground because of their stubbornness.