Wayne County Commissioners vote to enter consent agreement with state over financial emergency

Associated Press

Wayne County will enter into a consent agreement with the state of Michigan in an effort to fix a $52 million structural deficit.

County commissioners voted 12-2 Thursday to allow state Treasury officials to take an active role in the fiscal restructuring of the county, which has 1.7 million residents and Detroit as its largest city.

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Past deals with Detroit and other fiscally troubled Michigan communities have included the appointment of financial advisory boards, the submission of monthly reports to the Treasury department and the creation of revenue and spending plans.

Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed last month that a financial emergency existed in Wayne County, which faces a projected $171 million deficit by 2019 if remedial measures aren't taken.

"After carefully considering the available options, they made the right decision," County Executive Warren Evans said of Thursday's vote by the commissioners. "Today Wayne County continues on its road to financial recovery."

Evans had asked the state to declare a financial emergency and wanted to enter into a consent agreement that will allow the county to impose health care and pension savings, if necessary.

"As we finalize the terms of the consent agreement with the state Treasurer, we will continue in our commitment to negotiate in good faith with our unions," Evans said. "Although a consent agreement will eventually give the county the ability to set the terms of employment, our preference is to reach agreements at the bargaining table."

A consent agreement was one of four options available. The other choices were a state-appointed emergency manager, a neutral evaluation, or Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Detroit entered a consent agreement with the state in 2012, but was unable to consistently meet the requirements of the deal. Snyder confirmed Detroit's financial emergency in early 2013 and that March appointed turnaround specialist Kevyn Orr as emergency manager.

Orr was given control of Detroit's finances and took the city through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The city emerged from Chapter 9 in December, eliminating or restructuring $7 billion in debt.