As we reported last week, 60 percent of the city’s $16 million yearly budget goes toward providing police and fire services.
It’s typical for most communities to spend the lion’s share of their budget on public safety.
But the city administration delivered grim financial news last week. Over the next five years, unless something is done to prevent it, the city will be running a multi-millon dollar budget deficit.
Its $5 million budget surplus will evaporate quickly, and unless spending goes unchecked, the city will spiral right back into state receivership.
How is the city going to avoid this crisis?
There is an expectation that new parking meters, which will soon be installed, will bring in additional revenue, and also the sale of city-owned lots will bring in a windfall.
There is also a beefed up economic development team that will work toward pumping up economic development, which in turn will produce tax revenue.
Apparently, a good portion of the city’s savings will come from defunding the fire department.
At a city council meeting last week, we learned that contract negotiations with the firefighters’ union had broken down, and talks are heading toward arbitration.
To say that firefighters are upset with the city administration is an understatement.
They appear to be furious.
Generally, in years past, arbitration has not gone well for the city administration, no matter who is in charge.
But times have changed, and union jobs are getting squeezed. Also, the city has an agreement with Detroit and Highland Park, where their fire departments assist with our fires, and Hamtramck assists with fires close by in those cities.
In other words, Hamtramck will continue to have fire service.
We don’t know how this financial challenge will work out, but it’s obvious that something has to give in order for the city to survive.
March 13, 2020