Fitch: Wayne County’s rating outlook ‘stable’

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A second credit-rating agency has given Wayne County some positive news.

Fitch Ratings said Monday it has removed the negative rating watch from some Wayne County bonds and called the county’s rating outlook “stable.”

Earlier this month, Moody’s Investor Services said the county’s approval of a consent agreement with the state to fix a financial emergency was a step toward improving the county’s credit.

Fitch also said the agreement improves the county’s prospects.

Wayne County commissioners voted Aug. 13 to approve the consent agreement to fix the county’s financial emergency.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans signed the agreement Aug. 17.. State Treasurer Nick Khouri received and signed the agreement on Friday.

Under the agreement, Wayne County will be required to provide the state with periodic financial status reports.

The agreement also will grant Evans the powers of an emergency manager in contract talks with unions. That means if he and the unions can’t reach a deal in good-faith negotiations 30 days after the consent agreement went into effect, he can impose terms such as lower wages, pension cuts and employee contribution increases.

Evans has said repeatedly he prefers to reach agreements with the county’s unions at the bargaining table.

The county is struggling with a $52 million structural deficit, stemming from a $100 million drop in annual property tax revenue since 2008. However, the county has been able to cut the deficit by $29 million since January, according to Moody’s report.

Adding to the deficit, the county still has to contend with a pension system that’s underfunded by $910.5 million, according to the latest actuarial reports.

(313) 222-2058