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Wayne County facing tough cuts

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is proposing budget cuts that include asking employees to sacrifice.

"And trust me, every county employee has a right to be mad about this,” Evans said during the first in a series of community meetings where he is outlining the State of the County.

Evans says if the county is going to eliminate its annual deficit and restore underfunded pension funds, there will have to be cuts. 

He says he cannot continue to fund retiree health care and other benefits at current levels.

"To be asked to give up part of that is absolutely tough. I get it. I also get bankruptcy’s worse," Evans said.

He says he also wants to merge the county departments of Health and Human Services and Children and Family Services. Evans added too many county buildings are half-empty. He wants to move some employees, and sell the buildings the county does not need.

Evans criticized previous administrations for the financial state of the county, but did not specifically name his predecessor, Robert Ficano.

Given Detroit's financial problems, which led to a state take over and eventual bankruptcy, Evans stressed the county could avoid that route.

“We do not need an emergency manager," he said to applause, "and we don’t need to file bankruptcy.  But, we need to get it done.”

Evans says if Wayne County doesn’t straighten out its finances now, others will.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.