City Hall Insider … 3/26/24

By Charles Sercombe
The city council met on March 26, and all councilmembers were in attendance.
A proclamation was read in recognition of April being Arab-American Heritage Month. It went, in part:
“… Arab American Heritage Month provides an opportunity to honor and recognize the achievements, resilience, and diversity of Arab Americans, highlighting their positive impact on American society and their enduring commitment to the principles of equality, justice, and democracy; and the City of Hamtramck is home to a vibrant Arab American community, whose members have made significant contributions to the city’s cultural heritage, economic vitality, and civic engagement; and Arab American Heritage Month serves as a reminder of the importance of embracing diversity, fostering inclusion, and promoting understanding and appreciation of all cultures within our society. …”
Another proclamation was also read in to the record, and it was for “Autism Awareness and Acceptance.”
During public comment, several residents complained about a hike they received in property taxes.
One resident said he did an extension of his house, resulting in his tax bill went from $1,800 a year to $6,500. He said the city manager reduced that to $5,000, but that is “still a lot of money.”
Mayor Amer Ghalib said that he has talked with the city manager and city assessor to adjust the housing values “to make it reasonable.”
Ghalib also noted that he talked with officials in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights and that they are experiencing the same issue.
“You just don’t hear those complaints,” Ghalib said.
Phill Kwik, a former city councilmember, said that a proposed city plan to cut space into Veterans Park to create diagonal parking will require 3/5ths of voter approval, per a city ordinance requirement.
A few residents spoke in favor of a proposal to create Neighborhood Enterprise Zones (NED) in some areas of the city. NEDs would greatly reduce property taxes for new housing construction or renovation of existing housing.
“This is going to be a great benefit to the city,” said one resident.
A Jos. Campau commercial property owner complained about her buildings getting marred with graffiti.
“It’s a consistent problem,” she said. “It doesn’t stop.”
Nasr Hussain questioned how much revenue the city’s parking meters generate.
Hassan Khan of Warren complained about the delay in charging a suspect who assaulted a person during a recent Bangladeshi event in front of city hall.
He said a suspect was arrested and released without being charged.
It was explained to him, and to several others in the council chambers with the same concern, that evidence was turned over the Wayne County’s Prosecutor’s Office, and that it’s up to the prosecutor to file charges.
It was also explained that the Prosecutor’s Office is greatly backlogged.
Later in the meeting, Councilmember Abu Musa said the delay in charges is making some believe Hamtramck is no longer a safe community. Musa also said that there might be a protest staged in front of city hall.
It was again explained to Musa that the matter is in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office, and that there is nothing the city can do about the matter.
It was suggested that a protest would be better served if it was held in front of the Prosecutor’s Office in Detroit.
Mayor Ghalib said the matter involved a single incident over a dispute about politics.
Bill Meyer said the city should print a notice for residents that explain how taxes work.
“It’s a problem happening across the country,” he said.
Regarding the new police chief, who is a Yemeni-American, his hiring “will make a big change” in the city, said Meyer.
In new business, the council approved an employment contract with Jamiel Altaheri, who will be the city’s new chief of police.
He has been employed with the New York City Police Department, and is an “at will” employee here in Hamtramck. Altaheer will be paid a salary of $118,000 per year.
Altaheer has not started employment yet with the city.
Moving on to an update on the city’s budget, City Controller Syef Hamir Ahsan said the budget is on track to meet earlier projections.
Councilmember Mohammed Hassan questioned if there were any concerns about projected revenues.
Ahsan said he over-estimated how much revenue income tax would generate, and that the city spent $1 million more than expected on alley repaving.
But other than that, the city has a financial surplus, he said.
The council agreed to cancel the April 9 council meeting in order to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
A number of items were given approval, which included:

o Awarding a contract for technology services to VC3, worth about $79,000.
o Approving a grant contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation regarding the sidewalk and alley repairs near Hamtramck City Hall, between Evaline and Yemans. The grant is worth $260,000.
o OK’ing the purchase of fire gear at a cost of $17,589.
o Approving the purchase and installation of cooling units and a heat pump for the Department of Public Services office. The cost is $13,395.
o Approving the purchase of (45) M17 Sig 9mm Duty guns and (45) SigM400 patrol rifles for the Hamtramck Police Department. The cost of this purchase is $124,837, which will be paid from the department’s drug forfeiture fund.
o Also approving, for the police department, the purchase of portable radios, at a cost of $48,482, which will also be paid from the drug forfeiture fund.
o Approving the purchase of a utility vehicle for the Building Department, at a cost of $25,649.
o Allowing the city to sell three lots –2237 Andrus, 2471 Faber, and 11332 Lumpkin — for $30,000, to developers. The developers are Dorota Maternia and Andrew Kotlarz. They plan to construct two-family units on each lot.
Posted April 26, 2024

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