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It's official: Wayne County is in a state of financial emergency

Jul 23, 2015

Credit Traverse City Rotary Club / flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Snyder has made it official: Wayne County is in a state of financial emergency.

County Executive Warren Evans had asked for the declaration.

Wayne County faces a projected budget shortfall of $171 million by 2019.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes has some advice for Wayne County commissioners and its executive: learn from Detroit.

Howes tells us that a number of factors have brought Wayne County to this point, poor financial management and falling property tax revenue among them.

All is not yet lost, Howes says, but the next few weeks will be filled with critical decisions.

“We have a county executive who’s really trying to get his arms around this and I think is winning an awful lot of credit from people, Republican and Democrat, for being very realistic and really pushing the right issues and trying to show the discipline that you saw in Detroit,” he tells us.

According to Howes, all signs indicate that the county will seek a consent agreement with the state treasury, though that didn’t work so well for Detroit.

“They pretty much wasted 11 months dragging their feet, and then ultimately they ended up in Chapter 9 after an emergency manager was appointed,” he says.

The commissioners and Evans want to avoid appointing an emergency manager and, ultimately, bankruptcy, Howes says, because that would cause them to lose political control.

That desire is all well and good, but Howes tells us it’s now up to the county to demonstrate they can take the proper steps to improve their financial situation before they’re forced to resort to more drastic measures.