By Farah Harb
The Arab American News
HAMTRAMCK — The financial emergency in Hamtramck has been resolved, putting the city out of emergency management and under the guidance of a transition board.
In the past 14 years, Hamtramck has overcome two financial crises, under the direction of an emergency manager.
In June 2013, Cathy Square was appointed as the city’s emergency manager to address its financial issues. The city had a deficit of $2 million with a $5.6 million budget, out of which $1.4 million of the deficit was money the city owed to its pension system.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” Mayor Karen Majewski said when asked for her take on Hamtramck’s emergence from under emergency management. “But it’s not the state’s job to solve political disputes because their concern is financial stability, and in terms of finances, we are stabilized.
“Even if we are out from under the emergency manager, the state promised to advise and help,” she added. “And we have had an ongoing relationship ever since I’ve been mayor, so we look forward to continuing to work with the state as we approach a new stage now.”
She added that she expected the emergency manager to leave soon, but was a little surprised that happened before the city finished the hiring process for a city manager.
A year and a half after Hamtramck’s second emergency, Square said that the city has an un-audited fund balance of $3 million, according to a report by the Detroit News.
According to the same report, Square secured a low-interest $2.3 million loan with a 10-year repayment schedule to reimburse payments that the city owed toward employee pensions.
“This is truly our opportunity to move forward and apply our knowledge as a body of a Council to put forth innovative ideas to succeed as a city,” Councilman Fadel Al-Marsoumi said. “Our next goal is to work on our budget and we have started working on it. We’re just ready to take [it] on, put the city in a better place and make it successful.”
Gov. Snyder appointed a Receivership Transition Advisory Board to aid the city’s transition in managing its own finances. Square is a member of that board and will play a role in the city’s transitional process.
With Hamtramck emerging from under the emergency manager, the only cities left operating under emergency managers are Flint and Lincoln Park, as well as school districts in Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights.