Pressure builds for cities to cut costs, or else

Now that Hamtramck is about to receive $3.2 million from Detroit, a question comes up:
Does the city still need an emergency $2.5 million state loan?

If we were to bet, it’s a good guess that state officials are going to reject the loan, since the city settled with Detroit over the GM Poletown tax dispute. But there’s another reason why the state might reject the loan.

The loan would seem to contradict Gov. Snyder’s position that municipalities have to start cutting expenses. The key to curbing expenses is directly aimed at public employees, which includes firefighters and police officers.

Snyder is insisting that public employees pay 20 percent of their health costs and eliminate minimum staffing requirements. On top of that, he wants cities to merge services with other cities.

At the very least, he wants communities to combine their police and fire departments into one public safety department. That means police officers would also be firefighters when the need arises.

It’s a concept that many cities have tried in the past. It has been successful in some cities and a disaster in others.

No matter what, if Hamtramck can’t cut its costs, the governor can send in an emergency financial manager who can rip up union contracts and reshape this city.

A lot of people don’t like that notion. But the reality is, Snyder and his Republican colleagues now have a majority in state government. They have two years to enjoy this majority.

In the meantime, they have the ability to make sweeping changes in the state.

Hamtramck employees face a difficult future. One thing is for certain, time is not on their side.

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