This morning Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans submitted to the Wayne County Commission a $1.54 Billion Comprehensive Executive Budget for FY 2015-16 which covers the period of October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016, and a projected budget for the FY 2016-17.
This balanced budget is, in large part, the result of accomplishing many of the objectives set out in the Recovery Plan introduced by County Executive Evans earlier this year. These accomplishments have resulted in nearly $23 million in annual savings to the County. This budget also assumes that the rest of the necessary steps outlined in the Recovery Plan will occur, including pension and healthcare savings which will likely require the additional authority provided through a Consent Agreement with the State.
The budget submitted by the County Executive:
Eliminates the County’s $52 million structural deficit;
Creates a pathway to solvency;
Significantly reduces the siphoning of funds from various County departments to cover General Fund expenditures; and
Reduces unfunded healthcare liabilities by 76%.
“The budget submitted to the Commission this morning is realistic and balanced. It contains no trickery and has the support of the Sheriff, Prosecutor and our department directors,” said County Executive Evans. “We reached this milestone with hard choices, collaboration and transparency.”
Evans Administration’s effort to work with elected officials during the last several months is best exemplified by his collaboration with Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon to reach an acceptable and realistic budget given the County’s financial challenges.
Through legacy cost savings and management improvements implemented by Sheriff Napoleon, the Sheriff’s Department will spend $12.5 million less next year, with a total budget of $144,143,656.
The Sheriff and the County Executive agreed to have their staff meet regularly to ensure the budget stays on track and will continue to work cooperatively with the Court to manage jail population, which is essential to the success of this budget.
“For years I’ve raised concerns over how unrealistic and underfunded the Sheriff’s office budgets have been, which ultimately generated cost overruns exceeding $10 million in overtime,” said Sheriff Benny N. Napoleon. “This year, for the first time in my memory, the County Executive and his team worked with us to establish a realistic budget, one that actually recognizes the true costs of inmate incarceration and the necessity of duties which my staff must perform.”
The County Executive also worked cooperatively with the Prosecutor. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy stated, “I genuinely appreciate the efforts of the CEO in taking the time to understand the fiscal and other needs of this office. There has been no gamesmanship or hiding of hands in this process. The Executive understands the critical role that the Prosecutor’s Office has in ensuring public safety and making sure justice is done in Wayne County. Despite the County’s fiscal realities, by working together, we were able to make sure that there would be no further staffing reductions in the Prosecutor’s Office. I am confident that the CEO and I will continue to work collaboratively to bring my office where it needs to be to be able to deliver justice in a more timely, efficient, and just way. ”
County Executive Evans observed,
“We opened the books and told them that our mission was to build a budget based on the Recovery Plan’s projections,” Evans continued. “With that understanding, we spent months hashing out the best ways to help the departments and other elected officials successfully deliver quality services, despite our financial constraints.”
Notwithstanding the need to make the tough decisions required to produce a balanced budget, the Evans Administration found ways to achieve efficiencies and still provide quality services to residents and businesses of the County, including:
The newly formed Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness that will be a one-stop-shop for wrap-around services to meet the needs of residents and employers;
Freeing up available funds for capital improvements for County roads and parks; and
Restoring Mental Health program funding in Prosecutor’s Office.
“Our goal is to stabilize the County and restore confidence that our community is a good place to raise a family, find quality employment and build a successful business,” said County Executive Evans. “With the budget we submitted and the significant achievements we’ve already realized from the Recovery Plan, we are now on the path to a financially stronger Wayne County that its citizens can trust and be proud of.”