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State OKs Wayne County's exit from agreement on finances

Michigan has approved Wayne County's request to be released from its 14-month financial management agreement with the state.

County Executive Warren Evans announced today that the county had satisfied the consent agreement with the state by eliminating a $52 million structural deficit and restoring overall financial stability.

Evans' office said the county has restructured employee and retiree health care and pensions, and raised the funding level of the county's pension system from 45% to 54%.  Evans said his goal is to increase the funding level to 70%.

The county is in its best fiscal shape in some time, but still has a long way to go, according to Evans.

"We still have unfunded liabilities," said Evans. "So I don't want anyone to think this is a victory lap. This is a recovery that's gotten us out of fiscal distress." 

Evans said the county has balanced its budget for two years in a row with an accumulated surplus of $35.7 million for fiscal year 2015, and that surplus is expected to increase for fiscal year 2016.

"Unfortunately there was no painless way to address a financial crisis of this magnitude," said Evans in a written statement.  Evans noted the sacrifice of employees and retirees to help turn things around.

Evans said key challenges still lie ahead. They include remaining health care liabilities, under-funded pensions, and completing the construction of the county jail.