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Wayne County expects office consolidation to save $3M

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said he plans to consolidate county government offices to help address a mounting financial crisis.

Evans announced the plan, which he expects will help the county save nearly $3 million a year in rent and maintenance costs, earlier this week.

The news comes about two weeks after his office enacted a countywide spending and hiring freeze.

“Rationalizing the county’s real estate holdings is an important continuation of my effort to reduce County expenditures begun with the hiring freeze I recently announced,” Evans said in a statement. “With the county’s current dire financial state, my office is immediately implementing opportunities to reduce county expenditures while preserving essential services.”

Evans, who took office in January, warned last month that Michigan’s largest county faces a “financial Armageddon” in the second half of next year unless spending cuts are made. He said the county faces a deficit of nearly $70 million.

The county executive said the office consolidation plan calls for relocating staff to the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.

County departments occupy less than 40 percent of the building, and 25 percent of its office space is available for lease.The county’s other facilities are less than 50 percent occupied.

Evans said in the first step of the plan, workers will be moved from 640 Temple, between the Lodge Freeway and Cass in Detroit, to the Guardian Building.

The building on Temple houses the Wayne County clerk’s Birth & Death Records Division, the main office of the Public Services’ Buildings Division, the Detroit-Wayne County Mental Health Authority and Children and Family Services.

County officials said Bloomfield Hills-based financial consulting firm O’Keefe & Associates conducted a study for free on how the county can reduce costs, improve management of the county’s 257 properties and identify properties that could be sold.

Among the report’s recommendations is selling county offices at 30712 Michigan Avenue in Westland and the Juvenile Hall Facilities on Forest in Detroit.

It also recommends the county eliminate redundant, leased space and move workers in those offices to the Guardian Building. The county leases space in 18 buildings at a cost of $8.8 million a year.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2058