Wayne Co. reaches tentative deal with employee unions

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County has reached tentative labor agreements with its employee unions, county commissioners were told during budget discussions Wednesday.

The county has contracts with 11 unions that are up for negotiation this year, a representative from Executive Warren Evans’ office told commissioners.

“We’ve made tremendous progress with ... our unions,” said Tony Saunders, Evans’ chief restructuring officer. “We anticipate announcing major labor agreements with all of our unions in the very near future.”

Saunders didn’t provide details, but said the contracts enable the county to achieve the savings it needs without a 5 percent wage cut that Evans’ administration proposed earlier this year.

He told the panel he anticipate unions will vote on the tentative agreements in the next few days.

Also Wednesday, commissioners — meeting as a committee of the whole — gave preliminary approval to Evans’ proposed $1.56 billion county budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Evans also submitted a projected $1.45 billion budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

County commissioners are expected to take a final vote at their full board meeting Thursday morning.

Commissioner Al Haidous, D-Wayne, asked about a nearly $1 million increase for the executive’s office.

Saunders said that was because under previous executive Robert Ficano, the executive’s office had a number of employees who weren’t accurately reflected in the county budget. He said that was corrected, and Evans reduced the number of employees in the executive’s office from 27 to 21.

Commissioner Joseph Palamara, D-Grosse Ile, said the proposed budget is a 7 percent decrease from the county’s $1.68 billion budget for the previous year. Wayne County’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Evans has said his budget eliminates what’s left of the county’s $52 million structural deficit, decreases unfunded health care liabilities by 76 percent, reduces the need to divert funds from departments to cover general fund expenditures and creates a pathway to solvency.

In addition to the structural deficit, Wayne County is also struggling with a pension system that’s underfunded by $910.5 million.

Evans asked the state in June to declare a financial emergency and intervene to help fix the finances of Michigan’s most populous county. County commissioners in August approved a consent agreement.

CRamirez@detroitnews.com

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