City is still waiting for Detroit

By Charles Sercombe

Hamtramck is still waiting.

Waiting for the administration of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to get off its ass. Well, that’s not how Hamtramck officials would say it, at least on the record, but it is the growing sentiment they feel.

Hamtramck is specifically waiting for Bing’s administration to complete – and reveal – an audit of a tax sharing agreement the two cities share from GM’s Poletown plant.

The plant straddles both Hamtramck and Detroit, although the majority of the site is located in Detroit. Nevertheless, Hamtramck receives about $3 million a year from the plant.

At least that was the deal for the last 20-some years.

That income came to a halt last year when Detroit claimed part of the agreement had expired and that Hamtramck has been overpaid.

Hamtramck says Detroit is withholding $3 million – money that was already budgeted for last year and this year.

Detroit officials said the audit would be completed earlier this month. Hamtramck City Manager Bill Cooper said Detroit has tried a “stall tactic” by requesting information that it already has on file.

Cooper said the point person in Bing’s administration has had only “limited” contact with him.

While Hamtramck waits, the city faces an increasingly dire financial squeeze. Layoffs have already taken place and unless the Poletown revenue comes in the near future, it’s likely the city will face a $3.3 million deficit.

Cooper has warned that by this January, the city could be entirely broke. If Hamtramck can’t meet its bills, there is a likelihood that the state will once again step in and appoint an emergency financial manager.

However, even with an emergency financial manager in charge, there is little more that can be done. The manager cannot break the city’s labor contracts. But, the manager could merge the city’s police and fire services with another community or the county.

Cooper said if Detroit continues to drag out the dispute he will file a lawsuit to force the issue.

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