City’s financial future is uncertain at best

By Charles Sercombe

The suspense is over.

Last week we reported that a meeting this week about Hamtramck’s financial picture is the makings of a Halloween horror story.

It is, and so much more.

Let’s just say city officials are now whistling past the graveyard, hoping against hope that Hamtramck will still exist in some form as an independent city.

That may be overly-dramatic, but listening to the options laid out Monday night, it is a possible conclusion. How bad is it? Here’s how City Manager Bill Cooper and Financial Director Nevrus Navarro laid it out for the City Council during a special work session:

Even if a court forces Detroit to hand over the $3 million it is withholding in a dispute with Hamtramck over property taxes collected from GM’s Poletown plant, the city will still be $2 million in the hole within several months.

And if the Detroit payment doesn’t come through and the City Council gives Cooper the OK to dip into the city’s rainy day fund, that will only allow the city to meet payroll and pay bills for maybe another few months.

The options are few: Somehow convince the city’s public employee unions – especially the unions representing the police department – to take wage cuts and switch over to a much cheaper health insurance plan.

Or … wait for the state to intercede through receivership and allow the emergency financial manager to take charge. The manager’s options could lead to declaring the city bankrupt, which would then allow the city to break its contracts and farm out police and fire services.

What’s perhaps even worse is that Detroit is also facing a financial meltdown and the state itself has a $1.6 billion deficit. We are, as a region, suffering from one of the worst economic setbacks since the Great Depression.

And it appears our political leaders in the state are at a loss finding a solution to this mess.

Hamtramck could even face the possibility of being merged with Detroit and Highland Park, although how that would solve anything is anyone’s guess.

City officials have vowed to keep working on the problem.

For city employees, it may be wise to dust off that resume and begin looking for new work because if you are not out of a job within a year, you could very well be working through payless paydays.

3 Responses to City’s financial future is uncertain at best

  1. Paul

    November 6, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Tourism and the Hamtramck Art Scene is where this city needs to go. The more development of ART PROJECTS, FESTIVALS, MUSEUMS, etc. then the better. Hamtramck needs to begin soliciting its many fans to spend money there.

  2. Realist

    November 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Are you kidding me? Art and Tourism? Wake up already. Detroit has more “Art and Tourism” that Hamtramck could ever offer and look what has happened to that city. So many people have this idea that Hamtramck is like an urban Royal Oak or Ferndale. There could be nothing further than the truth. Hamtramck is a city that is surrounded by some of the worst neighborhoods in North America. We are about to see damage done to the city in the worst way in the coming months. When there are Police and Fire layoffs/payless paydays who do you think is going to protect the city? Art is fine but the focus on public service and building business should be number one on the priority list. Go take a look on Jos. Campau and Conant and look at how many buildings are empty. That is a sign of things to come. The city is pumping more and more money into things like DDA, CDBG, Museums, etc. What kind of new Businesses and revenue have they brought to the city?

  3. Paul

    November 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Your response is typical of the defeatist attitudes of the region. It seems that you’re done even before trying. Hamtramck surrounded by some tough neighborhoods is exactly the reason why it can be such a surprise to visitors. But it takes vision and people who want it and who believe, not skepticism. There should be diversification in the quest for business. Manufacturing in America today (and especially Hamtramck) is done. Hamtramck (and Detroit to a much larger extent) must pursue many ways to support the region. Hamtramck is beloved by SO MANY people and it is a resource that is not tapped into fully. Detroit did the right thing to bring the Lions back to downtown and rebuild Tiger Stadium. Hamtramck will do the right thing by focussing on its strengths.

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