Wayne County has exited a consent agreement with the State of Michigan, a signal that the county is on its way to balancing its books and fiscal recovery.
In his State of the County address this year, County Executive Warren Evans said the county was chipping away at its $100 million deficit after entering into the consent agreement in 2015. Since then, Evans announces today that the county’s Recovery Plan is in compliance with the state’s guidelines, eliminating a yearly $52 million structural deficit and an $82 million accumulated deficit.
“The County is in its best fiscal position in quite some time, but there’s still a long way to go,” Evans says Thursday morning. “Diligently implementing major pieces of our Recovery Plan has gotten us here, but many key pieces of our Recovery Plan remain to be implemented. We are now, however, positioned to address those challenges.”
The county says it has balanced its budget for two years in a row, accumulating a $35.7 million surplus in fiscal year 2015 and projecting an increased surplus in fiscal year 2016. The Recovery Plan was not without major cuts, however. The county restructured employee and retiree health care, resolving $829 million in unfunded health care obligations. And the county still has yet to address a $636.5 million shortfall in its pension fund – though that is down from $900 million last year.
“There was no painless way to address a financial crisis of this magnitude,” Evans says. “We are grateful to all who made sacrifices to help turn things around under the consent agreement.”
Evans must also address the county’s unfunded Other Post-Employment Benefits liabilities, which has been reduced from $1.3 billion to $462 million, and completing the unfinished jail site in downtown Detroit, which the county is still trying to secure financing for.