Economic reality calls for serious concessions

City officials heard some sobering financial news last Thursday.

And it looks like Hamtramck is heading for tough financial times in the years ahead. According to City Manager Bill Cooper, by the year 2012, Hamtramck will be faced with a $4 million budget deficit. And unless the city’s police and fire unions agree to a wage freeze for three years as well as other contract concessions, both departments will be hit with some heavy layoffs.

Hamtramck and many other communities in the state are facing the same dismal financial future as state revenues dry up and tax collections continue to shrink.

Given the history of Hamtramck’s police union in labor issues, we doubt there will be much in concessions. That will mean up to 17 officers will be laid off, which in turn will require the remaining officers to put in overtime to make sure the minimum staffing requirement, as dictated by contract, is met.

Cooper said even though more overtime will be paid out, the layoffs will more than offset the cost.

Another option on the table is to ask voters to OK a public safety property tax hike. It could be as much as 10 mills. Given the sour financial picture for many households, that could be a tough sell.

Cooper is now talking with the unions and we might know which way the city will go in the next few weeks.

Hamtramck has come a long way in the last several years, from financial chaos to an amazing turnaround. But the country’s tanking economy and Michigan’s vulnerable manufacturing industry has conspired to work against us.

We urge our unions to take a step outside of their comfort zones and give these concessions a consideration. Perhaps after we weather the next few years and the economy starts to turnaround, we can go back to the original agreements.

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