City Hall Insider

The City Council met on Feb. 22, and the meeting lasted for one hour and 15 minutes. Mayor Karen Majewski and Councilmember Cathie Gordon were absent.

Huh … here’s a first. The meeting was actually uneventful and for the most part … boring. No tempers, harsh words, biting sarcasm … just a regular sort of meeting.

Perhaps setting the tone for the night was a presentation by Arnold Weinfeld from the Michigan Municipal League Foundation on the services his organization provides.

Or to be more precise, one of the services the MMLF provides: helping communities figure out how to merge services with another community. The program was modeled by the former Gov. Granholm administration and called “Shared Public Services Initiative.”

The program was put together to help communities save money in times of shrinking revenues. Weinfeld said it’s not just about saving money, it’s also about promoting a sense of regionalism.

The MMLF particularly specializes in merging police, fire and IT services.

Hamtramck’s City Manager, Bill Cooper, has been asked to put together a cost analysis of merging services – including police and fire – in case contract concessions are rejected by the city employee unions.

In a review of a proposed update of the city budget, Councilmember Tom Jankowski questioned a decrease of $85,000 in sanitation services.

City Finance Director Nevrus Nazarko reminded Jankowski that that cut was made by the council in December in an attempt to save money in a number of areas in the budget.

Jankowski also questioned why there was an increase of $230,000 for overtime in the Police Department.

Here’s where things got a little … ah … mysterious.

Both Nazarko and Cooper said the increase was based on overtime costs from last year in the department and the fact that overtime money was running out for the police.

Jankowski asked several times where the money was coming from. After a couple of attempts to clarify the matter, Cooper said the extra money is coming from projected revenue from the overtime traffic patrol program.

Jankowski seemed surprised by the answer, saying it was his understanding that the overtime traffic patrol program had been stopped per council directive (Editor’s note: Yeah, so did we.)

Cooper insisted there was no council directive telling him to stop the program. (In a telephone interview later, Cooper said the council directed him to reduce overtime hours in the traffic patrol program.)

Still, Jankowski questioned how $230,000 could suddenly appear.

“Am I off base to ask where we got an extra quarter million?” Jankowski said.

Councilmember Mohammed Hassan asked how much revenue the traffic patrol program has produced to date. Cooper said he’d get that information.

Jankowski later added that he felt “hoodwinked” over this extra revenue. The upshot was that the overtime traffic patrol will cease in the meantime.

Moving on to recycling news, it was announced that Wayne County will hold two collection dates for hazardous household materials. The first is March 26, 8 a.m.-2 p.m at Wayne County Community College District Western Campus, located at 9555 Haggerty in Belleville.

The second is June 18, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., at Henry Ford Community College, located at 5101 Evergreen in Dearborn. You can drop off household paints, nail polish, glue, antifreeze, motor oil, auto batteries, dry cell batteries, mercury thermometers and electronic waste. For more information, call (734) 326-3936.

Council Pro Tem Catrina Stackpoole added that a special recycling day will be held on March 19 in front of the Glory supermarket (located on Jos. Campau at Holbrook.) On that day electronic items that are no longer wanted can be dropped off.

Stackpoole also said that a fundraiser for the Hamtramck Recycling Committee will be held on March 11 at the Belmont Bar, which will feature live music, raffles and a chance to win primo seats for a Detroit Tigers game.

Councilmember Jankowski was not quite done with his probe of city finances. He asked for reports on parking meter revenue collection, an update on the sanitation budget and an update on Cooper’s look into outsourcing all city services.

The council also agreed to cancel the March 8 meeting because Councilmember Jankowski, Gordon and possibly Stackpoole will be absent. Stackpoole said she didn’t know if she would be back in town by the meeting time. Jankowski didn’t say why he and Gordon would be absent.

(Editor’s note: Their absence has something to do with a very special donut-like pastry that Hamtramck goes nuts over once a year. That celebration also involves going to local bars. Both Jankowski and Gordon are bar owners.)

And on the subject of paczki, that reminds us of the Polish Muslim’s tune “Paczki Day” (sung to the tune of The Beatles’ “Yesterday”):

“Paczki day/All the tourists come Hamtramck’s way/And I add 10 pounds to what I weigh/Oh I believe in Paczki Day.”

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