No summer tax hike in Wayne County - for now

Wayne County residents will not see a property tax hike this summer - at least not yet.

At Thursday's meeting, Wayne County Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman spoke against shifting millions of dollars to cover a $49 million court judgment against the county in the pension case. 

By not asking taxpayers to foot the bill, it relieves them of an unforeseen increase on their summer property tax statement.

"It's just unconscionable to sit here and rip off $49 million from a budget that they are trying very hard to put together a recovery plan that they have presented to state." said Clark-Coleman.

But in the end, Clark-Coleman was outvoted and commissioners approved shifting millions to cover the judgment.

"This is something that could put us in bankruptcy," Clark-Coleman said.

The judgment is connected to an extra payment for retirees. The court decided the county owed money because it did not pay into the pension fund five years ago.

But those in favor of the shifting of funds say it's the right thing to do and that taxpayers should not get hit with a higher property tax bill without having a say

"If we want taxpayers to assist in Wayne County's recovery, we should ask them," said Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak. "We should not impose this on them."

But not everyone agrees.

"We can't afford anymore cuts in the county we're bare bones," said Wendy Lukianoff, AFSCME Local 25 president.

Unhappy with the outcome of the vote, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is planing his own course of action.

"Mr. Evans will veto this. You can't pay a deficit by creating a deficit," said Judge Richard Kaufman, Wayne County Deputy Chief Executive.

Officials say the veto would mean an override vote must be scheduled and there would be a delay in getting out the summer property tax bills. But commissioner Woronchak says he will do what it takes to protect Wayne County Residents.

"I understand their point of view but I want to protect my tax payers," Woronchak said. "I've always had, as a core issue, protecting my taxpayers; the dollars and cents and their wallets."
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