Councilmembers Tom Jankowski, Cathie Gordon, Kazi Miah and Mohammed Hassan refused to step up and make the hard decision to raise property taxes to the maximum level they can without voter approval.
Without that measly 2.3 mill increase, Hamtramck will race full speed to a financial meltdown by this time next year.
The four, instead, decided to protect themselves from a perceived voter backlash for being in favor of raising taxes.
That tax increase would have cost the average homeowner an additional $65 a year, which would keep basic city
services in place and spare the need to almost immediately deplete the city’s rainy day fund. Instead, the four councilmembers recklessly voted against doing the right thing in order to remain politically popular.
As a result of their inaction, 11 city employees will be laid off, including two vacant positions in the Police Department will go unfilled as well as one position in the Fire Department. Despite these cuts, the city will still end the year in a deficit and will require the city to dip into its rainy day fund to the tune of $575,000.
The fund has $2 million in it now, but within two years it will be wiped out. We’re not entirely sure what these four councilmembers think will happen between now and then to turn around our financial fortunes.
Some might be relying on successful negotiations with the city of Detroit over a dispute we have regarding a revenue sharing plan from the GM Poletown plant. Detroit is saying part of the agreement we have has expired. That means Hamtramck will lose $2 million a year in revenue.
As for the chances Hamtramck officials will convince Detroit to reverse its position, we wouldn’t count on it.
If the 2.3 mills were OK’d, the city could collect about $500,000 a year. It’s not a cure for the city’s financial problem, but it would stave off draining the rainy day fund so quickly.
Thanks to Miah, Gordon, Hassan and Jankowski, Hamtramck is going to go broke very quickly. And then what? That’s when the city would once again come under the control of a state-appointed financial manager.
Our guess is that the manager will have no other option but to start merging our city services with Detroit or Wayne County. Heck, maybe the state would even wipe Hamtramck off the map and merge us totally into Detroit.
Do you think those bureaucrats in Lansing have any special sentiment about preserving Hamtramck as an independent city? Not a chance.
Well, at least Councilmembers Gordon, Hassan, Jankowski and Miah can brag to the voters how they stood firm against tax increases.