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Tough decisions for tough times in Wayne County

Wayne County government is about to enter a very important time of the year - budget season.

There is a certain added urgency this year as the Commission's Committee on Ways and Means - of which I serve as vice-chair - deliberates before it sends a recommendation to the full Commission for final approval. The 2015-16 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Due in part to the housing market decline, the amount of property taxes collected in Wayne County has fallen by nearly 30 percent since 2007-08. In the wake of these financial hardships, the state has agreed to perform a preliminary review of the county's finances.

The 15-member Wayne County Commission is working with the administration to resolve the county's problems - and therefore avoid any possible state intervention. That is the reason you, the residents of Wayne County, elected us. We have already made tough decisions by approving several money-saving measures, and we will continue to do what is needed. The cuts made have been difficult, but we are mindful of why we are here - to serve the residents of Wayne County. To that end, there have been some proposed changes that have been pulled off the table. For example, the county will continue to operate its family homeless shelter.

The Commission also approved the administration's reorganization plan, which not only will save money, but better serve county residents. A key element was creating the Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness, which is a merger of several departments and divisions to bring related services under one umbrella. I will assist in overseeing this as a member of the Committee on Health and Human Services.