Stakeholders in the studio project may travel to China in February or March to seek investors for the studio complex.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – A decrease in city tax revenue and cuts in Michigan revenue sharing will necessitate the layoffs of two full-time and seven part-time salaried positions.
A statement issued by City Administrator Eric Waidelich at press time Friday declined to announce the names of the laid-off employees in order to protect privacy until all individuals had been informed.
It says that with taxable home values down and a record number of foreclosures, there is less money to run the city.
In addition, Waidelich said, more people are opting for jail time instead of paying fines. The latter is a revenue source for the city, he said, adding that this fiscal year’s jail budget, paid to Wayne County, was spent in six months. Police Chief Dean Tamsen told Waidelich the cost per prisoner per day is now $43.
In a closed meeting following Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting, followed by a public motion and vote, members voted unanimously to support Waidelich’s recommendations.
The vaguely worded motion called for the council to “concur with the recommendation of the city administrator and to direct (him) to proceed as directed.” City Clerk Michael Mizzi confirmed that the resolution was signed before the council left the conference room.
In an effort to increase revenue, the city actively is courting investors to build movie sound stages in the city to support its fledgling film industry. According to information received through the Freedom of Information Act, Waidelich, Mayor Gary Burtka and Community Development Director David Boomer recently filed expense reports totaling $2,600 to travel to Los Angeles Dec. 7 to 10 to actively seek capital investors.
Burtka has said that sound stages are essentially to bring additional movie production and its resultant employment and capital investment to the city.
A source familiar with the city’s studio plans said officials and their agents may travel to China in February or March to seek investors for the studio complex. An outside consultant may be hired to check potential foreign investors’ backgrounds and viability before the trip, the source said.
“All local governments are operating in extraordinarily difficult times with historic unemployment rates and seemingly endless revenue sharing cuts being passed by the Legislature,” Waidelich said. “We had to make the difficult decision to eliminate certain positions so we can protect public safety and other essential services most utilized by our residents.”
The two full-time employees will receive the standard city severance package, although details will not be released to protect privacy.
Burtka extended his gratitude to the former employees for their service and noted the city’s decision was not based on the employees’ performance.
“What made this decision even more difficult is that each and every one of these employees is a dedicated worker who served our community exceptionally well,” he said.
Burtka said Allen Park has weathered the recession better than most areas by making the city more efficient and pursuing public/private partnerships to bring jobs and investment to the area. Last week’s layoffs were the first the city has had to make.
Officials have said additional information will be provided soon on the city’s Web site, www.cityofallenpark.org.