The yin and yang of dealing with the city’s budget crisis


   Micromanage, or step away from solving the city’s financial problems?   That seemed to be the two conflicting thoughts influencing the city counci

During a two-hour council work session last week, councilmembers conceded that their hands are tied in solving the city’s financial problem, but then moments later dived headfirst into a line-by-line review of the budget.

          We can empathize with the council’s frustration. The city is likely on the verge of being taken over by an emergency manager. Hamtramck is facing a $3 million budget deficit in the next couple of months.

          There really are no significant ways to make the budget balance without major contract concessions. At this point, it’s all eyes on the Fire Department, which some city officials say has the most room for restructuring.

          That decision, however, is out of the hands of local officials because of binding labor contracts. An emergency manager, however, has the authority to make sweeping changes.

          While we commend the council for making an attempt to right this budget, it truly is a case of too little, too late.

          The good news is that Hamtramck’s financial woes are fixable, and it shouldn’t take an emergency manager more than six months to get the job done.

          What we all need to concentrate on is where do we go from there? This is the second time the state has intervened, and it is feared that if the city lapses back into financial trouble, the third time definitely won’t be the charm.

          In other words, it’s likely that if Hamtramck falls back into financial trouble again, the next time around state officials will simply merge the city into Detroit and take care of things once and for all.

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