Hamtramck’s Top Expenses of 2020

By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – It’s a complicated set of circumstances, but the math is sound: Hamtramck is losing money quickly. Since 2018, the City of Hamtramck has lost an average of over $2 million in its budget surplus every year, losing as much as $25 million, according to City Manager Kathleen Angerer.

The only way out of this budget shortfall is by changing two numbers: Increasing revenue and decreasing expenditures. But as any public official can probably attest, this is a long and difficult process. It’s already started with an independent financial review from the State of Michigan, which City Manager Angerer says will be released publicly around Mar. 2 of this year.

“Our administrative staff is already thinking about what we can do to balance a budget,” Angerer said. “But when you look at these numbers, it’s very plain to see that we will not be able to pass even the identical budget we had last year if we don’t have increases.”

In the meantime, there’s a number of challenges that Hamtramck’s City Council will need to think through. How does a city that’s among the highest-taxed in the state lose so much money? And what can a city that is continually losing its biggest revenue sources do to make up the loss?


Budget Challenges Started with Dodge, and then GM’s Closed Plant

As part of a complicated history of eminent domain, the main auto manufacturers that paid enormous taxes to the city of Hamtramck have all closed as of early 2020. With all the major revenue sources closing their doors – including the prison near the city’s eastern-most border – the city is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic at its worst spending power.

This isn’t new for the city, since Hamtramck has been under state receivership twice before. But what is new is a repurposed state receivership system that hasn’t been popular in the Whitmer Administration, or necessarily in the administrations before it. As a financial emergency may develop in Hamtramck, the city administration may not be able to expect another round of State Receivership.

The answer to what happens next is simple. The city won’t be able to pay its employees, and many city services will not be provided.

“We are facing a disaster,” said Councilman Almasmari at the Jan. 26 City Council meeting. “If we don’t take this seriously, if we don’t take the effort to fix this budget and make hard decisions, we will find ourselves out of money and not being able to pay our employees.”


Hamtramck’s Top Expenditures of 2020

Like any other city, Hamtramck needs to provide essential services to its residents. Those services, like water, electricity and an education, are all funded through the existing revenue sources paid through taxes. However, Hamtramck was ranked among the highest in property taxes in the state of Michigan, even surpassing all of the Grosse Pointe Communities as of 2019.

Among the highest expenditures was utility costs, which were mainly funded through water and electricity bills for property owners. Another major cost was property taxes to Wayne County, which totaled above $5 million. Below is a list of the top 35 expenditures that were outlined by the Hamtramck City Council preapproved expenditures. This is only part of the cost of running an entire city.

Great Lakes Water Authority  

Water Utility Company





Wayne County Property Taxes



Government Agency






Treas – School District of Hamtramck



Public School District






Priority Health



Health Insurance Provider






Priority Waste, LLC



Garbage Disposal Service






Detroit Edison



Utility Company






MI Dept Treasury – Emergency Loan



Municipal Lender






US Bank



Municipal Lender






Aetna Inc.



Retiree Healthcare Provider






Super Construction



Directional Drilling / Boring Company






Eagle Claims



Workman’s Compensation Provider






I.T. Right Inc



IT Provider for Local Governments






DTE Energy



Utility Company






The Bank of New York



Municipal Lender






Delta Dental



Dental Insurance Company






Cardmember Services



Credit Card Provider for US Bank






Wex Bank



Payment Service Provider






The Standard



Insurance Provider






McKenna Associates, Inc.



Construction Company






Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Michigan



Health Insurance Provider






JMC Electrical Contractor LLC



Electrical Contractor






(Undistributed Current Tax Collections)






Total Health Care USA, Inc.



Health Insurance Provider






Lawsuit Settlements



Lawsuit Settlements Paid






Fire Escrow Account Returns


Escrow Account for Fire Department






Hamtramck Center II LLC.




(Postage Reserve Account)  



Account designated for postage fees






Fran Murphy Law PLC



Legal Services






Robert E. Zaranak



Legal Services






Rose Legal Services PLLC



Legal Services






DTE Reimbersement Claims



Reimbursement for Property Damage by DTE






(Out of State Retiree Healthcare)



Direct Payment for Healthcare






Konica Minolta Business Solutions



Business Service Provider






The EZ Street Company



Construction Company