Hamtramck is facing severe cuts in its budget and may even have to lay off 17 police officers and 16 firefighters.
Some in town are outraged over that notion, as should all of us. But critics are also saying that before that happens, the city’s special events coordinator, Eve Doster-Knepp, ought to be laid off before a cop or firefighter are let go.
It may come down to having to layoff Doster no matter what but before the city takes that step, let’s consider an alternative.
If firefighters and cops want to avoid a severe layoff they can do so by agreeing to contract concessions for the next three years, which includes, in part, a 5 percent wage cut and freeze in salary increases.
It’s a tough fact to face, but many cities are freezing wages and benefits and are asking for pay cuts. Hamtramck is not immune.
Laying off the special events coordinator would hurt Hamtramck in ways many critics don’t realize. In case you weren’t around for the Labor Day Festival this year, it was a hit. For folks who have been around since the 1980s when the festival was at its height, this year’s festival was reminiscent of those years.
This year’s successful festival was no accident. It took Doster’s organizational skills and invaluable connections with local media, especially television station WXYZ Channel 7, which broadcast its evening newscasts from the festival site during the weekend.
Previous to this year’s festival, Doster took over the Paczki Day event and turned it around as well.
The point here is that the city can’t afford to not have someone who is professional to be in charge of these events as well as others. The city has to position itself to attract visitors, who in turn support local businesses which may lead to major investment.
Some say that volunteers should take over these events as a way to save money. Well, guess what? These events had been organized by volunteers for the past several years and despite their hard work, the events were clearly failing.
No one wants to see the city’s security and public safety put in jeopardy, but we also at the same time can’t stop investing in the city.