We’re not surprised that state officials abruptly returned local control to the city.
We speculated earlier in the year that this would be the year the state ends Hamtramck’s receivership. What we are surprised about, though, is it took so long for the state to take this action.
Hamtramck has been under the financial supervision for about four years. Some 18 months of that period the city was under the direct control of a state-appointed emergency manager.
That EM took some corrective actions, but the biggest job was left undone by her and the state.
The EM failed to take on the heady challenge of figuring out how the city in the near future will come up with funding for its ever-increasing pension costs. In a few years, Hamtramck is likely to face another financial crisis.
By not tackling this issue – and using the political muscle that the state carries – Hamtramck is being set up for failure.
On top of that, there is a good chance that the federally-funding SAFER grant that offsets the salaries of firefighters will end sometime in 2019. That will be a $1 million yearly hit to the city’s budget.
Obviously, city officials need to have a serious talk about finances and how in the world we are going to continue to fund the fire department as it presently exists.
Like it or not, city officials have to rise up to the challenge. That’s why they were elected.
If we don’t solve this financial challenge, we can guarantee that if the state has to intervene for a third time, well, as the saying goes, the third time won’t be the charm.