City officials have their work cut out for them this year.
They will have the challenge of finding a way to fund the Fire Department now that it appears funding from the federally-funded SAFER grant will run out in January of 2019.
For the past few years the grant has paid for the salaries of 12 firefighter positions, totaling about $3 million a year. That was a great boost to the city when it was in a financial emergency.
But now the harsh reality of finding a way to keep the department in operation is ahead of us.
Fire Chief Danny Hagen is proposing to link up with Eastpointe and Hazel Park who have a public safety authority. Basically, this would be an additional tax to property owners.
That is not going to be an easy move. Voters in Hamtramck as well as Eastpointe and Hazel Park would all have to agree on the matter.
There are other options out there that have been discussed. One would be to outsource the service to Detroit. Or, keep just a core group of full-timers and fill out the rest of the department with part-timers, who would be paid substantially less and likely have to work without benefits.
Or, city officials might work out another solution. The point is, city officials have to start the discussion now and not wait until the last minute.
Some of these proposals are going to be unpopular with the public. Firefighters, no doubt, will present considerable opposition to any significant changeup in the department.
This is not going to be an easy discussion or a popular one, but it’s the job elected officials signed on to do.