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Emergency manager ready to head off to the ‘sunset’

Emergency Manager Cathy Square is about end her job in Hamtramck in another week.

Emergency Manager Cathy Square is about end her job in Hamtramck in another week.

 

By Charles Sercombe
There is less than a week to go before Hamtramck’s emergency manager leaves and presumably an announcement is made saying the city is out of its financial crisis.
Emergency Manager Cathy Square’s last day is next Thursday, Dec. 18, and she says she is proud of her 18-month tenure her and the shape she is leaving the city in.
“We’re really on the right track,” she said in a telephone interview with The Review.
Square said some of her achievements have been to balance the city’s budget, create a surplus, negotiate new labor contracts, reduce health benefit costs and set up city departments to bring in more revenue.
“We’ve saved millions of dollars,” Square said.
A complete list of her accomplishments will be submitted to the state’s Treasury Department.
Square said she expects Gov. Rick Snyder to announce Hamtramck’s financial recovery on her last day here.
Although Square will be gone and a newly-hired city manager will take over, the state will still keep an eye on Hamtramck. A Transition Advisory Board will be in place to have final say on significant financial decisions made by city officials.
If past practice is any guide, Square, as the former emergency manager, will be named chairman of that board. There are also some Hamtramck residents who will serve on the board, but Square declined to release their names.
As for how long the board will be in place is up to Hamtramck.
“There is no sunset on the TAB board,” Square said. “The city has to remain steady.”
What’s left to do is come up with a long-range plan to stay on top of the city’s payments to its pension system, something that could still cause a financial setback in the years to come.
Also needing work is the Police Department’s overtime budget, which started out with $100,000 at the beginning of the fiscal year in July, but has already been depleted.
Police Chief Max Garbarino said he warned Square that amount was not enough, but Square insists there needs to be adjustments to the department and how manpower is handled.
As for Square’s next career move, she is guarded.
“I don’t even want to say,” she said. “I want to ride off to the sunset. I want people to just forget about me.”

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