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Snyder confirms financial emergency in Wayne County

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday sided with a review team’s finding that a financial emergency exists in Wayne County.

Snyder’s determination comes after the independent financial panel issued its decision on Tuesday.

“Local leaders have taken important steps toward resolving the financial crisis that has challenged the county for several years, but the review team’s report clearly shows that a financial emergency exists,” Snyder said in a statement.

“Chronic financial crises will only grow worse, and the possible solutions will be far more difficult, if the crisis is not addressed immediately. Restoring Wayne County to a secure financial foundation will ensure residents will continue to get the services they need.”

The review team was appointed earlier this month, following a preliminary review requested by County Executive Warren Evans. County leaders have seven days to request a hearing before the state Treasurer or his designee.

Evans has said he’s hoping for a consent agreement to fix the county’s finances. Such an agreement would spell out specific budgetary reforms the county would have to accomplish.

“Our administration has been aware and fully transparent about the county’s financial challenges, which were clearly spelled out in our Recovery Plan and the letter to the Treasurer recommending a financial emergency be declared,” James Canning, a spokesperson for Wayne County, said in a Wednesday statement.

“Today’s determination by Governor Snyder confirms our findings that a financial emergency exists in Wayne County,” Canning added. “We maintain the position that a consent agreement is the best option going forward.”

County commissioners eventually can vote for one of four options for state intervention: a consent agreement, which sets benchmarks the county would have to accomplish; mediation; an emergency manager; or Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Wayne County is struggling with a $52 million structural deficit. The recurring shortfall in Michigan’s most populous county stems from the underfunded pension system and a $100 million yearly drop in property tax revenue since 2008. Its accumulated deficit is $150 million.

County leaders have until 5 p.m. July 29 to request a hearing on the governor’s determination.