Voters face a daunting decision on city’s future

Next Tuesday (Nov. 3), Hamtramck voters will have a lot to consider.
Besides choosing which political candidates should hold office – including the president – voters here have three controversial ballot proposals to consider.
The most talked about are Proposals 1 and 2, which, combined, would eliminate the language establishing the police and fire departments and their chiefs from the city charter.
If voters approve these proposals, it would then be up to the city council to decide how to provide those services.
On social media, there has been an angry pushback, with some folks saying they will sell their house and move if this happens. They fear any alternative plan for providing those services will be an unacceptable replacement.
The third proposal asks voters to allow the city to increase the present half mill property tax that is used to partially fund the city’s police and fire pension system up to 10.5 mills.
That increase would allow the city to fully fund the present pension obligation of about $2 million. The current millage pays only a tiny fraction of what the city is obligated to spend.
Obviously, that millage increase is huge, and would likely increase yearly property taxes by a couple of thousand dollars per year for the average homeowner.
All of these proposals appear to have considerable opposition.
So, this may make some wonder, why would city officials even make these proposals?
The answer is simple: the city is going broke. It is currently in deficit spending, and it will soon blow through its budget surplus. In other words, Hamtramck is heading toward yet another financial crisis.
If that happens, it would likely be the third time in 20 years for city officials to ask the state to step in.
And when city officials do that, state officials are going to ask if they did everything possible to avoid this financial implosion.
And that’s why you are seeing these proposals on the ballot.
The proposals are indeed extreme, but the simple fact is Hamtramck has to try something different. We doubt anyone can afford a massive property tax increase.
We understand why some folks are scared that their fire and police services will become inferior if Proposals 1 and 2 are passed.
Whether we like it or not, something has to change – and drastically so.
Whether these proposals are passed or not, the result will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Posted Oct. 30, 2020

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