By Tereasa Nims
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Residents and at least one Allen Park City Council member are frustrated with a lack of information and communication, leaving the city swimming in web of secrecy.
Councilman Dennis Hayes said it’s been apparent since the arrival of Emergency Manager Joyce Parker.
“She keeps things close the vest,” Hayes said. “She’s very evasive.”
Hayes isn’t alone in feeling it.
At least three residents have voiced complaints, including Dr. Robert Armstead, who said he is annoyed with the lack of openness.
“The (emergency manager) was sent in to correct the financial emergency, not control the city with silence on important issues concerning the citizens,” he said. “We live here and have to deal with what matters to us.”
Parker did not respond to the Downriver Sunday Times’ request for an interview.
Armstead said he likes Parker on a personal level, but the silence on the finances, dodging questions concerning the finances of the city, is something he cannot support.
Hayes has questioned why he can’t seem to get some items on the agenda.
One is the status of the missed $2.6 million pension payment for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Hayes said he wants to know the status of the payment and can’t seem to get answers. Hayes said the recent police and fire millage didn’t accomplish what it was supposed to accomplish, since it doesn’t appear the city paid toward the pension, which is largely for police officers and firefighters.
Hayes said the city is reportedly going to refinance the $2.6 million debt to make the missed payment, which to him seems to be making a big problem even bigger.
“Like Social Security, if you keep kicking the can down the road, there will be a day of reckoning,” Hayes said. “If we borrow the money and refinance the debt over several years, she will be gone and we will be right back in the situation of needing an emergency manager again.
“You can’t balance a budget by borrowing and keep adding to a credit card debt,” Hayes added.
Hayes also wants answers to what is happening with the utility bill at the community center.
“That’s been asked by many citizens,” Hayes said.
The city owns the building, but leased it out. When the tenets stopped paying, the utility bills went unpaid.
“Who is responsible for the utility bill?” Hayes asked. “I can’t get answers.”
Another item of contention for Hayes is the lease on the Southfield movie theater, which cost the city $25 million and now reportedly is worth an estimated $10 million.
Hayes said the city has been trying to sell the building for three years after its original plans for the building failed. He said there were hopes the building would draw movie companies, but that didn’t happen after the Michigan Film Production Inventive was drastically cut back.
“The public has the right to know all these things,” Hayes said. “She’ll be long gone, but we’ll be on the hook for all this.”
There are hopes the level of communication will change.
“The residents deserve answers from the emergency manager,” Armstead said.