City Hall Insider … 3/5/24

By Charles Sercombe
The city council met on March 5, and all councilmembers were in attendance.
Under the heading of new business, the council approved a contract extension with Dominic Gaglio Construction, Inc. to continue repaving city alleys.
The company will be paid over $500,000 for the service, which comes out of the city’s general fund, as well as the city’s road fund.
However, Mayor Amer Ghalib complained that some of the scheduled alley repaving didn’t happen on time, delayed by as much as a year. He questioned whether future contracts can include a clause that penalizes contractors for not doing their work in a timely manner.
City Manager Max Garbarino said that could be included in the future, but he also stressed that the nature of construction projects means that they are often delayed for various reasons, such as cold or stormy weather preventing further action.

Construction, Garbarino said, “is riddled with delays.”
Ghalib said that he and other elected officials look dishonest to residents when construction projects, such as alley repaving, don’t happen on time.
He said that postponing projects until the next year “is inconvenient for us and for residents. You lose trust from the residents.”
In a companion contract extension, the council OK’d using Hennessey Engineers for designing alley repairs and overseeing the work.
That extension will cost the city about $80,000 which will also be paid out of the city’s general fund and road fund.
Under the heading of reports from the mayor and council, a lengthy discussion was held on resident complaints about the building department, code enforcement, and not being able to pay income taxes online.
Mayor Ghalib said the building department has made some “huge mistakes” in charging residents for services.
“They abuse the public, basically business people,” he said.

As for code enforcement, Ghalib said residents should be given warnings about violations instead of first issuing tickets.
He said that “people are angry at us while we’re trying to serve the people and make them happy to live in Hamtramck.”
Ghalib also said the city needs to make it easier to get a business license.
“Now, it’s harder than ever,” he said.
The city, he said, needs to “take action at those who don’t like to help the residents.”
City Manager Garbarino differed with the accusations being made about the building department.
“That’s just not the case,” he said.
As for code violations, Garbarino said that warnings are indeed first issued, and that residents making complaints are omitting that fact.
“They’re just not telling you guys,” Garbarino said.
As for the income tax department, he said the office is critically short-staffed, which has caused some inconveniences for the public.
But he also said that the department has encountered a lot of fraud being committed both by businesses and individuals who are not reporting their income to the city.
“We keep running into a lot of dishonesty,” Garbarino said.

Mayor Ghalib noted that income tax collection has been down, and questioned the department’s “efficiency.”
(The city has an income tax for those who live here, and also for those who work in Hamtramck but don’t live here.)
Councilmember Abu Musa questioned why some code violations are being issued in the evenings and on weekends.
Garbarino said that the city has staggered its code enforcers to work all hours. He said that there’s “no rule or law” saying the city can’t issue code violations during those hours.
Councilmember Mohammed Hassan said that, at this point, it’s not certain that the city will renew its contract with the parking meter company.
(A number of people have complained about the parking meters, saying they either don’t work properly, or that they are confusing to use. A number of merchants on Jos. Campau, where the meters are used, have also bitterly complained about their loss of customers because of the meters.)
Posted March 29, 2024

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