Hamtramck trying to avoid emergency financial manager

Hamtramck trying to avoid emergency financial manager

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Hamtramck City Hall  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Hamtramck City Hall (Credit: Fox 2 News)
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WJBK) -

For now, the City of Hamtramck has outsourced its EMS services to a private company because its ambulances are in terrible shape, a lot like the city's finances.

"The state has told us all along through the process that they were not going to be willing to fund the status quo here," said Acting City Manager Kyle Tertzag.

That is exactly why Hamtramck says the state has yet to grant its request for a $3 million emergency loan.  The situation is so bad that the city is more than $1 million behind on its pension payments.

"If we had paid the pension payments on time, the employees would not be getting their paychecks tomorrow," Tertzag said.

So what is the city's plan to fix this mess?  Right now they are looking at city employees, mainly their firefighters.

"The average fireman makes $81,000 a year and enjoys healthcare with no premium share, no cost out of pocket," said Terzag.

Firefighters say that price tag includes overtime, incentives and a lump sum payout for firefighters who had been laid off and later brought back thanks to a federal grant.

"They're looking out for their 27 paychecks.  I'm looking out for 27,000 residents," Tertzag said.

However, if Hamtramck is really serious about cutting its bottom line, why is the city putting more pricey administrators on its payroll?  Three people now do the jobs of finance director, treasurer and income tax.  At one time, one person handled all of them.

"I think the results of one person trying to do those three jobs speak for themselves.  We're in a tough financial position," Tertzag remarked.

A position that has the state's full attention.  Does Tertzag believe the city can avoid an emergency financial manager?

"We are going to do everything we possibly can to avoid an emergency financial manager, and that includes sitting down with the employee unions every week if we have to and asking them to come to the table and make similar sacrifices," he said.

Hamtramck's city manager has asked the firefighters' union to come up with a package of concessions.  The union president told me he is working on that package and expects to present it to the city manager by Friday.  The question is will that be enough.

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