Evans: Balanced budget sent to Wayne County Commission

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Tuesday he has submitted a balanced budget of $1.55 billion to the Wayne County Commission for its approval.

The budget covers Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016. It’s down from the current year’s $1.68 billion budget.

Evans also said he has submitted a projected 2016-17 budget of $1.46 billion. The Wayne County Commission is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Guardian Building.

“The budget submitted to the Commission this morning is realistic and balanced,” Evans said in a statement. “It contains no trickery and has the support of the sheriff, prosecutor and our department directors.”

His announcement comes less than two weeks after state officials said Wayne County is in probable financial distress and put a state study of its books on a fast track. On July 2, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed a team to review Wayne County’s finances.

Evans said his proposed budget eliminates the county’s $52 million structural deficit, “reduces the siphoning of funds” from various county departments to cover general fund expenditures and cuts unfunded health care liabilities by 76 percent.

He attributed the balanced budget to a recovery plan he introduced in April designed to save the county $230 million over the next four years.

The budget assumes the entire plan is implemented, including pension and health care savings and 5 percent wage cuts for most union and nonunion employees. Those changes likely will require the additional authority available through a consent agreement with the state, he said.

Evans said efforts to work with elected county officials over the last few months paid off. For example, he said, the sheriff’s office has cut its costs by $12.5 million for next year. Its total 2016 budget is estimated at $144 million, down from $145.4 million this year.

“This year, for the first time in my memory, the county executive and his team worked with us to establish a realistic budget, one that actually recognizes the true costs of inmate incarceration and the necessity of duties which my staff must perform,” Sheriff Benny Napoleon said in a statement.

Evans said his administration also worked with county Prosecutor Kym Worthy to bolster the budget.

“Despite the county’s fiscal realities, by working together, we were able to make sure that there would be no further staffing reductions in the Prosecutor’s Office,” Worthy said in a statement.

Wayne County has been wrestling with a recurring budgetary shortfall that stems from an underfunded pension system and a $100 million yearly drop in property tax revenue since 2008.

Adding to the $52 million structural deficit, the county has taken about $20 million from its general fund each year to help bolster its pension system.

The county pension plan for current and future retirees is underfunded by $910.5 million, according to the most recent actuarial report done for the county. Wayne County has more than 5,000 retirees.


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