The City of Camden, New Jersey is laying off over 300 police officers and firefighters, about half of its total force.
Both cities are facing crushing financial problems.
Hamtramck is also facing a budget deficit and is seeking contract concessions from the city’s employee unions – which includes police and fire.
So far, only the firefighters have conceded to a minor wage freeze, which will expire soon.
If the city does not get concessions, it will likely face payless paydays and force the state to appoint an emergency financial manager.
The clock is ticking.
If police officers and firefighters still refuse to change over to a less expensive health insurance plan and other concessions, who knows what will happen to those departments.
Newly elected Gov. Rick Snyder has already called for public employees to take cuts in wages and benefits.
It’s not that we are in favor of these cuts, but the unfortunate truth is public safety costs are strangling the city. Hamtramck no longer receives as much state revenue sharing and tax collections as it did several years ago.
And health insurance costs keep jumping up each year.
Some police officers say they don’t believe the city because the city manager keeps changing the projected date when the city will become broke.
We understand there is a lack of trust here. But the clock keeps ticking. Time is running out. The fate of their jobs, the police and firefighters, are in their hands.
Again, it’s not that we have it in for the cops and firefighters. We feel sorry they are faced with having to accept cuts. In a perfect world, we would pay police officers and firefighters huge salaries because of the inherent danger of their jobs.
But this is far from a perfect world.
And the clock is ticking.