August 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Commissioners unanimously approve $1.68B Wayne Co. budget

Detroit— Wayne County commissioners on Thursday approved a $1.68 billion county budget for fiscal year 2014-15, an 18 percent increase over this fiscal year.

Commissioners approved the budget 13-0. Despite the $256 million increase from fiscal year 2013-14, the county was able to shrink its accumulated deficit from $175 million to an estimated $97.5 million for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

A major factor in the reduction was the treasurer’s office agreeing in May to transfer $150 million from its Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy agreed to drop her lawsuit against the county for what she said was a lack of funding when commissioners agreed to grant her $34 million from the general fund instead of last year’s $30 million. Worthy was looking for $40 million.

The commission’s Committee on Ways and Means held hearings over nearly a month to deliberate the budget on a department-by-department basis.

“I’m pleased with the hard work from our committee members and approving of a status quo budget that includes some meaningful changes for the county,” Commissioner Laura Cox, R-Livonia, said in a statement. “The process overall this year was much smoother than in recent years.”

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department will operate on a budget of $145.4 million. The department, which routinely pays millions of dollars to deputies in overtime not approved by commissioners, was looking for nearly $181 million.

The department wants to hire more deputies to reduce overtime hours among the existing staff. Overtime costs run around $18 million a year in the department.

There are 86 deputy positions unfilled, and the department wants to hire 219 more. But the starting salary of under $29,000 has made it difficult, said Sue Hall, department administrator.

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