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County's finances have a brighter outlook

It's almost budget season in Wayne County. 

I serve as vice-chair of not only the Commission,but also its Committee on Ways and Means, and the
committee is about to begin budget deliberations for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

The Committee on Ways and Means will hold a series of budget hearings, which are open to the public, on a department-by-department basis. Once the committee's deliberations are complete, it will make a recommendation to the full Commission for final approval. That projected vote date is Aug. 18.

The budget hearing schedule will be posted on the Ways and Means web page at  ww.waynecounty.com/
commission/717.htm.

For the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Commission adopted a budget of $1.56 billion; the 2014-15 budget was
$1.68 billion. Virtually every department, including the Commission, saw its budget reduced for 2015-16.

It was one factor in Wayne County's improved financial picture. The largest factor was the transfer
of an excess $178 million by the Treasurer's Office from its Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund, wiping out
the accumulated deficit of $88 million and all but eliminating the structural - or annual - deficit of $52
million.

The 2016-17 budget will be affected by significant cuts taken by union employees and retirees, namely via their health care benefits, under the consent agreement with the state of Michigan. The county is aiming to end the consent agreement this year. At that time, the state will continue to monitor the county's budget for the following two years. The county administration reported that there was a general fund surplus of $5 .7 mjllion as of Sept. 30, 2015, the end of the last fiscal year. 

Wayne County also has been shoring up its pension system, which was just 47 percent funded. The Commission recently voted to send more than $14 million to the fund.