Westland, Michigan-After an initial review of the Wayne County deficit elimination plan and listening to the State of the County, Westland Mayor Bill Wild, candidate for Wayne County Executive notes that the proposal and State of the County Address raises more questions than answers.
Mayor Wild offers his observations and is available for further comment.
“I appreciate that the county is finally ready to have a serious conversation about balancing the budget however, this is a conversation they should have started in 2008. We faced many of the same issues in Westland and we started not only the conversation but we started making the necessary adjustments so we would not be in a deficit. Today, we have a balanced budget.”
Tax Revenue Loss
We all lost revenue due to a loss of a tax base. Why did it take Wayne County to reach a $353 million loss before they started to think about doing something about it?
On Public Safety
If everyone agrees that public safety is a priority then let’s take a different approach. Perhaps adjustments could be made in the executive budget, which would facilitate funding priorities within the prosecutor and sheriff’s budget. Residents want a visible sheriff’s department. Not just a jailer.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy recently reported that her staff is down by 85 people, which is approaching about half of her staff. Seventy-five of those people are attorneys. She points out that her team is backed up on more than 200 child abuse warrants; 40 homicide warrants; and not-in-custody warrants are backed up almost six weeks. (See Her Comments HERE)
The problems the county faces today are largely a result of mismanagement. The Wayne County administration spent more than $160 million on a downtown jail project before abandoning it and incurring cost overruns in the millions by moving county operations.
Waste Water Treatment Plant
Again, the elimination plan is built on ‘What ifs’ and assumptions. With the Waste Water treatment plant, the devil is in the details. These cities believe they own it already. Do they or don’t they? This is not a clear cut solution or situation.
“They are proposing to reduce some $80 million on the ‘what if’ premise they can actually move the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund Unrestricted Fund Balance into the general fund. What if they can’t? Is it legal? Will this just end up in a long drawn-out court battle? When I became Mayor of Westland in 2007, we inherited a looming deficit. We created a surplus while protecting services and tax payers.”
On Affordable Care Act
The Affordable healthcare act was created for the uninsured not necessarily for municipalities to dump their financial burdens into it. I am not sure this is feasible or legal.
All this is about having the right relationships. A lot of these union issues can be handled by collective bargaining. I am not sure — in an election year — if the county executive has those relationships to pull it off.
The county executive is not the victim here; the tax payers are the victims. It will take true leadership to pick them up and create a comeback county.
Media Contact: Vanessa Denha Garmo, 248.830.8605