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State Rejects Wayne County’s Debt Elimination Plan

Unless unions and county officials come on board by the end of June, the state will step in and appoint an emergency manger.

The majority of Wayne County commissioners have indicated they'll reject County Executive Robert Ficano's proposed debt-elimination plan. (Patch file photo)
The majority of Wayne County commissioners have indicated they'll reject County Executive Robert Ficano's proposed debt-elimination plan. (Patch file photo)

State officials signaled Wednesday it could step in and appoint an emergency manager to get Wayne County’s finances in order after rejecting a draft of a plan to cut more than $175 million in debt.

Rejection of the draft puts more pressure on Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano to bring unions and county officials to the table to sign off on the strategy. The Detroit Free Press reports.

The county commission, the county treasurer and unions have not agreed to the plan, something they need to do before the end of June to avoid state takeover. A majority of commissioners have said they won’t approve the plan because it doesn’t offer long-term solvency, as Ficano has promised, and because current and former employees have largely been left out of decisions that affect them the newspaper said.

However, Commissioner Laura Cox said she’s eager to vote on the plan. It’s not perfect, she said, but it’s overall a good plan and it shows state officials that Wayne County is willing to work on the debt elimination plan.

““We are out of compliance,” Cox, R-Livonia, said. “It’s very important that Wayne County present a deficit-elimination plan to the state because we haven’t in several years. The last one was rejected by the state. I think we owe it to the taxpayers to present to them how we plan to reduce our deficit.”

Commissioner Tim Killeen, D-Detroit, said he likes certain aspects of the plan, but said the county didn’t make much effort to sell it to unions representing county workers before presenting it to the commission.

“I’d rather have them work it out (with the unions), then bring it to us when it’s done,” he told the Free Press.

Ficano’s sweeping plan includes three major proposals:

  • Reorganizing and recapitalizing the County-owned wastewater treatment facilities for a savings of about $121 million

  • Transferring $81 million to the general fund from the delinquent tax fund

  • Making changes in how employee health-care and pensions plans are computed, an $825 million obligation that is currently only about 50 percent funded.
Lee Jacobsen May 01, 2014 at 02:18 AM
Time to get a debt manager on the scene, the can has been kicked down the street too many times already. Regarding healthcare and pension funds, we have Obamacare to take care of folk now, and pension funds are a thing of the past, with 401Ks being around like forever. If half the pensions are covered, figure out the cutoff point of service for the amount of funds on hand, and, like golf, you either make the cut, or you don't. Those that don't have enough years in will have to get govt subsidies somewhere else. It happens in the private sector all the time, no reason the public sector should be treated any different.
gregg phillips May 01, 2014 at 06:55 AM
and ficano is running for this office again? don't be fooled voters.....
Sue Czarnecki May 01, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Wayne County is very wasteful with money. Two examples ... $170 million in the new only half-completed jail in Detroit & the purchase of the Guardian Bldg in Detroit for $15 million in 2007.
Julie Lattimore May 01, 2014 at 01:34 PM
Sue, Ficano also blew $51million on a racetrack scheme in 2008 that never materialized after he built the highway ramp to no where in Milian.

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