Hamtramck’s financial woes caught between two forces

In last week’s issue we reprinted a column that originally appearing in the Michigan Daily that quoted Mayor Karen Majewski extensively.

The subject of the column was the impact of defunding municipalities and the rise of emergency managers.

We agree with the mayor that the city’s financial woes took a turn for the worse when Snyder in particular slashed funding to cities and expected them to survive. Snyder’s directive to cities was to eliminate redundant services and team up with neighboring communities to merge their services.

That was a needed kick in the pants for cities to reduce costs to taxpayers. But for cities like Hamtramck, sharing services with our neighbors — who were and are far worse off — was unfeasible.

While city officials had little wiggle room to cut costs and no power to rip up labor contracts, they didn’t help matters.

Case in point, city officials reversed a decision by a previous city manager to give cut health benefits to new hires in the fire department after former Emergency Financial Manager Lou Schimmel had paid dearly to get that eliminated.

What was the point of that?

Clearly, city officials made a bad financial decision there. And furthermore, it didn’t help that there was continual bickering among officials and their running interference with the day-to-day business of city hall.

On top of all that, city officials fired and hired a succession of city managers while the city’s finances whirled out of control.

It’s one thing to cry foul when Snyder cuts your state revenue and another for city officials to fan the flames of chaos at the same time.

Mayor Majewski complains that the current emergency manager refuses to keep city officials in the loop and tutor them on finances. The EM probably should be sharing information, but let this be a lesson to city officials, too.

If you run roughshod over city managers as your city implodes financially, don’t expect the state to come here with open arms.

One Response to Hamtramck’s financial woes caught between two forces

  1. Ken Hissong

    March 18, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Your article hits the nail right on the head. Why should the state have any sympathy for a city that is going through its second Emergency Financial Manager? Wasn’t once enough? Apparently not for the voters who continually elect less than ideal candidates to manage the city’s affairs. It is said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity. And maybe that’s just what we have in city government.

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