Warren Evans: Wayne Co. cost cuts are paying off

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans gave his first State of the County Address saying drastic measures to get things back on track, are paying off.

Evans says Wayne County is in much better shape than when he first took office and is no longer on the brink of financial  disaster.

"As a result of the unprecedented cooperation and shared sacrifice, Wayne County finished its last fiscal year with a positive general fund balance," Evans said.

Back in the black. Warren Evans says Wayne County staved off emergency management, bankruptcy and reduced healthcare liabilities by nearly a billion dollars through a number of cost cutting measures.

"I am proud to report we will petition the state treasurer to release Wayne County from the consent agreement," Evans said.

The financial wiggle room Wayne County is enjoying, was hard won. The register of deeds office had a few hundred thousand dollars shaved from its budget, the sheriff's department took a $2 million hit and 12 of Wayne County's 13 labor unions signed off on new collective bargaining agreements that slashed legacy costs.

"Everybody has made sacrifices," said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. "Allot of folks made sacrifices from the day I was appointed. They recognized how the county's fiscal conditions were."

But Wayne County is not out of the woods just yet.

Evans and Wayne County Commissioners will have to  free up the finances to renovate the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice  and finish the botched jail project, a remnant of the Bob Ficano administration.

"It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to finish that jail," Evans said. "There is no cost effective alternative."

Evans also revealed plans to provide job training for juvenile offenders, help the uninsured get access to healthcare and continued work on roads and bridges like the Jefferson Avenue drawbridge in River Rouge which Evans says was inoperable before he took office.

Evans says the primary way many local governments are funded,  through property taxes, remains broken. He says a couple of state laws only make that problem worse.

As for the consent agreement, Evans believes the county could be released from it this year.

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