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Wayne Co. plan calls for pay and benefit cuts, spinning off sewage plants

Wayne County Commission Chair Gary Woronchak

Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano is asking commissioners to approve a plan that calls for cutting pay and benefits for county employees, and spinning off its sewage treatment plants, among other things.

The county has a running deficit of at least $175 million. And it continues to spend more than it takes in.

"The reason that we're in this position, beyond the headlines of the knucklehead things that have happened in Wayne County," said Commission Chair Gary Woronchak, is that "our property tax base has shrunk dramatically with no increase in the tax rate, so we're operating with $100 million less every year."

The solutions laid out by the deficit elimination plan will require convincing suburban leaders to create a new authority that would take over the sewage plants, and convincing unions to agree to pay and benefit cuts.

"There's not one part of this plan that isn't difficult, to some degree. Every aspect of it is going to require some pain and some negotiation," said Woronchak.

County officials, including Ficano, have been criticized for the county's spending practices, including a five-to-one retirement match for Ficano's appointees. That's been changed. It's now about two-and-a-half to one. The county also scrapped a half-built jail that was massively over budget.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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