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Evans’ consolidation plan gets preliminary approval

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County Executive Warren Evans’ plan to consolidate some county departments is a step closer to becoming reality.

County commissioners as a committee of the whole voted unanimously Tuesday to forward Evans’ proposal to the full board for final approval. The commission is set to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday.

“I welcome the plan as a change in the way Wayne County does business in the future,” said Al Haidous, D-Wayne. “I really do believe it’s a step in the right direction.”

Evans unveiled the plan last month, aiming to save the county $3 million a year by consolidating the county’s Children and Family Services, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Services departments into a new department of Health, Community Wellness and Veteran Affairs.

Evans’ plan also calls for shifting the Department of Economic Development Growth Engine’s functions to the Wayne County Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public agency.

If approved, the agency will be funded with grants and land development fees instead of the general fund, officials said. Evans has said the move would eliminate 50 jobs.

County commissioners had raised some questions about what they believed were potential violations of the county charter in the plan. By Tuesday’s meeting, Evans and his staff had made some changes to address commissioners’ concerns.

For example, the Senior Services Department was to be combined into the same department as Children and Family Services, Health and Human Services and Veterans Services. But on Tuesday, the plan had senior services reorganized into a separate department overseen by the director of the new health and community wellness department.

Still, Judy Street, 58, of Inkster, told commissioners she’s worried the move will mean the elimination of the senior services program and her job along with it.

“If the program disappears, it’ll be very devastating to seniors who look forward to getting a hot meal five days a week and the interaction they have with our volunteers,” said Street, who has been a county employee for nearly 25 years.

The county faces a $70 million annual structural deficit stemming from an underfunded pension system and a $100 million drop in annual property tax revenue since 2008.

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