The cost of stabilizing Hamtramck’s financial picture is going to be steep, if some or all of the solutions outlined by the city manager is any indication.
And the people who will pay the highest price are city employees, especially police officers and firefighters.
According to the severest plan laid out recently by City Manager Bill Cooper to the City Council, six officers and six firefighters will have to be laid off. On top of that, employees would have to agree to kick in 20 percent of their health care costs and contribute more toward their pensions.
Firefighters and cops would also have to do away with minimum staffing requirements. If this plan is not enacted with the next year, the city will remain in deficit spending, Cooper says.
And if Hamtramck does not balance its books, Gov. Rick Snyder will likely swoop in and appoint an emergency financial manager to do the dirty work of tearing up union contracts.
An emergency manager could even take a further step and merge out city with Detroit and Highland Park.
We’re not in favor of any of this, but unless voters do something drastic and kick the governor and his Republican cohorts out of office, this is the reality we all face.
How did it come to this?
Make no mistake, the Republican Party wants to dismantle organized labor and public employees and public teachers. They are doing it as swiftly as they can while they hold a majority in the state legislature.
If they have their way, most if not all of the public labor force would be performed by private industry. Public schools would be eliminated and turned over to private charter operations.
Police officers and firefighters could find themselves working for $15 an hour with no benefits, just like what’s happening in Highland Park.
Is this the Hamtramck you want? Is this the Michigan you want?
Gov. Snyder has conveniently set up each community for financial failure by threatening to withhold addition state revenue sharing if they fail to merge and consolidate services.
Hamtramck can’t solve its impending financial crisis alone. It’s time that we as voters and citizens take a stand against a Republican plan that will greatly diminish our collective quality of life.