At a special meeting Wednesday evening, the City Council did the right thing and voted to apply for an emergency state loan worth $2.5 million. The council has been struggling with this issue for the past few weeks.
We’re not sure what made Councilmembers Cathie Gordon, Tom Jankowski and Kazi Miah change their minds and accept the loan, but we are awfully glad they came to their senses.
It should be noted that absent from this important meeting were Councilmembers Shahab Ahmed and Mohammed Hassan. Ahmed has been in favor of the loan while Hassan has been against it.
Without the loan the city would have become broke by mid-March or so, and unable to pay city employees or contractors. That would have likely triggered the state to step in and appoint an emergency financial manager.
Hamtramck can’t afford to go down that road again, which it did in 2000. The state would not likely look at Hamtramck kindly a second time around, and there’s a good chance that this city would have been merged with Detroit.
The councilmembers holding out on the loan were playing with fire.
But enough with that, it’s time to move on. This state loan – if it’s still available – will give the city time to negotiate with the city employee unions and get them to agree to a less expensive health insurance provider.
Those negotiations aren’t going to be easy because so far the unions have refused to budge. Fortunately, state legislators will likely make that a great deal easier with a change in a state law that will allow the city to throw out the contracts and get what it wants anyway.
Our city employees would be wise to negotiate a deal on their own terms now rather than continue to play hardball. But, that’s their business.
The city will get what it wants with or without the help of the unions.