Establishing, approving, and maintaining a viable budget (that everyone agrees on) for a county as large as Wayne County is no easy feat – yet in a sprawling county, that process is steadfastly happening time and time again.
The Wayne County Commission recently unanimously approved Executive Warren C. Evans’ $1.67 billion 2021-2022 budget.
The budget, which takes effect on Friday, October 1, provides essential county services like the development of the Indigent Defense Services department, a new program promoted by Evans to provide legal services for Wayne County residents facing trial.
“I want to thank Commission Chair Alisha Bell and all our commissioners for their hard work on passing this budget; together we have produced a budget that provides for residents’ essential services while living within our means and without raising taxes,” Evans said in a press release. “The partnership forged on the budget is an example of what can be done for the people of Wayne County when our shared goals and objectives align.”
The recent approval of the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget is the third year in a row Wayne County Commissioners unanimously adopted Evans’ recommended budget.
Evans has presented the annual balanced budget without a general tax increase during his seven-year tenure as Wayne County’s chief executive officer. This year’s approved budget spends $200 million less than the 2020-2021 budget while expanding public services in several ways, a press release added.
Key highlights from the adopted 2021-2022 budget includes:
- Establishing the Office of Indigent Defense Services, a new office in the county to coordinate and provide expert legal representation for county residents.
- Over $2 million to the Wayne County Prosecutors Office and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for programs promoting conviction integrity, strengthening the mental health division, support for juveniles — with increased resources to process sexual assault kits.
- A pathway to a $15-per-hour minimum wage for all county employees and a 2.5-percent raise for most county employees.
- Five million dollars in accelerated roads funding to speed up needed infrastructure projects across Wayne County
- Funding to hire additional professional staff
“Our budget expands services in key areas through increased efficiencies and a common-sense approach to meeting our existing needs,” Evans said in a press release.
Earlier this year, in response to Evans’ sound fiscal management of county operations, the investment rating agency Moody’s Investor Service increased Wayne County’s credit rating to A3.
When Evans took office in 2015, Wayne County faced a fiscal crisis of a $123 million accumulated deficit, $1.5 billion in unfunded pension debt, and state financial oversight. After 14 months on the job, Evans eliminated the accumulated deficit, restructured the pension obligations, and led the county out of its state-declared financial emergency.
“(The recent) unanimous vote shows our shared commitment to sound fiscal management for Wayne County and its residents,” Evans said. “That we were able to do this in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic speaks to renewed fiscal strength of the county and the tough decisions we have all made in the last seven years to put us on a successful path.”