City union eyes budget reality, now it’s the city council’s turn

typewriter For many of our readers this will sound like inside baseball kind of stuff.

But it is yet another example of these hard financial times and how when things get tough, Hamtramck pulls together.

With just three days until layoffs take effect in City Hall, the union representing those workers agreed to contract concessions. The city hall employee union, AFSCME 666, agreed to 26 days off without pay over the next two years and a wage freeze, among other concessions.

In return, city management must not layoff employees for the next two years or the deal is off.

City Manager Bill Cooper has countered, saying the city can’t guarantee there won’t be a need to lay off employees since future revenues may continue to nose-dive and the cost of health insurance will likely continue to jack up.

If the union is truly united, it would accept Cooper’s counter offer and cross its fingers that things at least won’t get worse — financially-speaking — during the next two years.

There truly is no guarantee on how things will go. Obviously, if the city needs to trim costs to avoid going into deficit spending, which is illegal, it has to do what has to do.

Hamtramck is facing a $700,000 deficit by this time next year, which will force it to dip into the city’s savings. That savings account, at $2 million, will be gone within two years if revenues don’t increase.

Cooper has asked for all four of its city employee unions to agree to concessions. The firefighters’ union agreed to some, namely waiving its 3 percent salary raise this year.

The two police officers’ unions have refused to make any concessions.

We can understand why city employees would be reluctant to concessions, because times are tough for them too. But the reality is, many cities are being forced to make huge cuts and lay off their employees – including police officers and firefighters.

Heck, the state-appointed emergency financial manager in Ecorse just raised property taxes by 10 mills.

Which drives home this point: Homeowners here in Hamtramck also have to shoulder some of the financial pain. And city councilmembers have to man-up and increase the city’s property tax rate to its cap.

So far, only Mayor Karen Majewski and Councilmembers Catrina Stackpoole and Shahab Ahmed have voted for the 2.3 mill increase. Other councilmembers have taken the cowardly route by refusing to support this sensible small tax increase.

Not raising taxes is a very safe way to vote and a way to appease voters. But it’s not leadership. It’s not being responsible. Anyone can play it safe and make voters happy.

A leader, however, is brave enough to go against the will of the voters in order to ensure this city’s financial stability.

Councilmembers Cathie Gordon, Kazi Miah, Tom Jankowski and Mohammed Hassan: Stand up and do the right thing – even if it means losing a few votes come re-election.

If they aren’t willing to be responsible, you can bet that when the city exhausts its rainy day fund and goes broke, the state will appoint an emergency financial manager who won’t hesitate to raise taxes.

At that point the only accomplishment these four councilmembers will be able to“boast” about is that they lost control of the city.

One Response to City union eyes budget reality, now it’s the city council’s turn

  1. Jimmy

    August 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I couldnt agree with you more…

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