It comes as no surprise that a state financial review team has concluded that Hamtramck is in a financial crisis.
What is surprising is that there is no nuance in the team’s findings. Instead, the majority of blame for the city’s financial failure was placed on the shoulders of the city council and mayor.
No mention was made about Gov. Snyder’s massive cut in state revenue sharing to Hamtramck and all cities in the state.
There was mention, however, of the collapse in property taxes and other unforeseen revenue losses that occurred outside the control of city officials.
The report chastised city officials for not keeping pace with falling revenues. That’s easy for them to say, but the team failed to realize that most of the city’s spending is for police and fire services.
City officials’ hands are tied when it comes to making significant changes in those labor contracts. And since that is where the majority of spending is focused on, there was nothing officials could do except wait for the inevitable.
But instead of waiting, city officials took a proactive step and asked for state intervention. That was the responsible thing to do.
However, instead of praising city officials, the team chided them for not dealing with the financial mess themselves.
Once again, the team conveniently overlooked binding contracts that prevented city officials from making the cuts that needed to be made.
State officials can point their fingers all they want but that does not eliminate the fact that when tax collections go down, cities are going to tailspin into financial trouble.
This issue goes well beyond the borders of Hamtramck. This is a national economic issue that needs to be addressed.