Wayne County employees get 2.5% pay hike in 2022 budget

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County's 2022 budget is $1.67 billion, and will include a 2.5% pay hike for its 4,000 employees.

The 2021-2022 fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. County officials said the across-the-board pay hike means that all of its employees will now earn "at least $15 per hour."

“Although we have many successes in this budget, we still have many challenges,” said Alisha Bell, D-Detroit, chair of the Wayne County Commission, in a statement accompanying the announcement. "One of the most important is for us to continue to retain and find ways to attract new talent to keep this county great.”

Wayne County Commissioner Alisha Bell

Wayne County is one of many employers in need of staffing. This year, the county contracted with a Troy-based accounting firm, Rehmann, to make it through the budget process. 

Overall, the county has about 1,000 job openings, including 200 positions at Wayne County Jail.

The regularly-mandated overtime shifts for jail deputies has led to many tensions between the union representing 540 deputies and Sheriff Raphael Washington.

Washington does not set the budget, County Executive Warren Evans does. Washington said this spring, after talking with Evans, that a pay raise of some sort seemed likely. Thursday it was passed into law by the commission.

Reginald Crawford, head of the Wayne County Deputy Sheriff's Association, was pleased to hear of the pay hike.

"It's great. It's needed," Crawford said. "I'm sure our members will appreciate it. Every little bit helps."

The 2022 budget projects a $2.1 million surplus and continues a string of seven consecutive balanced budgets, officials noted Thursday. 

Evans, in a statement Thursday, noted the 2021-22 fiscal budget marks the third-straight year county commissioners unanimously adopted his budget recommendations. 

The spending plan establishes the Office of Indigent Defense Services, a new county office to provide legal representation to Wayne County residents who cannot afford attorneys. 

The budget also directs $2.2 million to the offices of the Wayne County prosecutor and sheriff for programs promoting conviction integrity, mental health, support for juveniles without a chance for parole, and increased resources to process sexual assault kits, Evans' office noted in a statement. 

The "unanimous vote shows our shared commitment to sound fiscal management for Wayne County and its residents," Evans said. "That we were able to do this in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic speaks to renewed fiscal strength of the county and the tough decisions we have all made in the last seven years to put us on a successful path.” 

Wayne County was also recently awarded $339 million via the American Rescue Plan stimulus bill. 

County officials have not released any detailed plans on how the money will be spent, but have said the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" must result in "transformative" benefits to the county's 43 communities.