wayne county

 A state panel says Wayne County is in a state of “probable financial stress.” It was a unanimous determination by the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board. 

Board member and state Treasurer Nick Khouri says now the state will send in a review team to examine the books in Michigan’s most-populous county, which includes the city of Detroit and its suburbs.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr

After months of outreach and efforts to avoid a massive foreclosure crisis, more than 32,000 Wayne County properties are still on track for the county’s annual property tax auction in the fall.

That’s 32,629 properties county-wide, according to the latest numbers from the Wayne County Treasurer’s office. 28,545 of those distressed properties are in Detroit, the heart of the delinquent property tax issues.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Treasury started reviewing Wayne County’s financial situation Friday.

The state review comes after Wayne County’s top administrator asked for it, earlier this week.

In a letter to the state, County executive Warren Evans wrote this week the deficit is $9.9 million. 

Wayne County executive Warren Evans has asked state officials to declare a financial emergency there.

In a letter to state treasurer Nick Khouri Wednesday, Evans lays out his reasons for requesting state intervention in Michigan’s largest county, and requests Khouri start the process that could lead to a financial emergency being declared.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explains the latest road funding proposal, an effort by the Snyder administration to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and the latest on efforts to help ease the foreclosure crisis in Wayne County.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has again extended the deadline for homeowners to avoid tax foreclosure.

Facing the prospect of an unprecedented foreclosure crisis, the county has expanded its outreach efforts to distressed homeowners, and had already moved back the original March payment deadline to Monday. 

Foreclosed House
Brendel / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is one of several organizations calling on Wayne County to halt tax foreclosures for thousands of properties.

This comes the same day the Wayne County Treasurer's Office announced a second deadline extension for residents to avoid losing their homes.

House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 30,000 Wayne County residents are facing tax foreclosure as a deadline extension comes to an end Tuesday.

The county extended the original March 31 deadline after issuing foreclosure notices to around 75,000 properties with delinquent taxes.

Wayne County may put its home up for sale

Apr 30, 2015
Guardian Building Detroit
Aidan Wakely-Mulroney / Creative Commons

The historic Guardian Building, which houses several Wayne County offices in downtown Detroit, may soon have a "for sale" sign in its window.

The county said it plans to gauge buyer interest in the iconic Art Deco building over the next two months.

wikimedia commons

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans today rolled out a financial recovery plan he says could save the county's general fund $230 million over the next four years. 

Alternatively, if no action is taken, Evans said the county's deficit could balloon to more than $170 million by 2020.

Brendel / wikimedia commons

Time is running out for Wayne County residents to get help with tax foreclosures.

County officials say thousands of people facing foreclosure have gotten on payment plans to avoid that — more than 7,500 in Detroit alone.

But the option is only available until the end of this month.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans issued an executive order Monday imposing a spending and hiring freeze.

The county will not fill vacant positions, with some exceptions for health and public safety jobs.

No one will get a raise unless mandated by collective bargaining agreement. 

user FatMandy / flickr

A judge says Wayne County must take steps to improve the condition of its current jail.

An opinion from Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny says problems with the old jail have gotten worse while the county focused its efforts on building a new jail. Kenny says the completion of the new jail is not "imminent."

Relief for former Wayne County executive Robert Ficano as the FBI's investigation into county government ends.
Wayne County / YouTube

No new charges will be filed following a three-year investigation of corruption in Wayne County government.

The announcement came Monday from U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

via city of Detroit

Detroit officials say they’re confident the fledgling Great Lakes Water Authority will work out—despite concerns and complaints from some suburban officials questioning its future.

The GLWA gives regional players a larger role in running Detroit’s city-owned water system, which services some 4 million customers in southeast Michigan.

Warren Evans on Instagram

With the start of the New Year, Warren Evans became the new county executive of Wayne County, and with it he's inheriting a daunting pile of problems.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes recently published the article "Fiscal fight fraught for Wayne County's Evans." He joined us to discuss what Evans has inherited from his predecessor, Robert Ficano, and what he can do to improve the county's financial situation.

Office of the Wayne County Executive

The new Wayne County executive, Warren Evans, has kicked off his term by announcing a 5 percent cut to  the salaries of all his appointees.  

Evans said the move will save Wayne County taxpayers $1.2 million. He said he will also make nine fewer executive appointments than his predecessor.

Pat Ibbotson/"Eloise: Poorhouse, Farm, Asylum and Hospital 1839-1984"

We recently stumbled across some cool, old photographs of life at one of the most well-known psychiatric hospitals in Michigan: Eloise.

Celebrating the holidays was an important part of life for the people who lived and worked at Eloise, which was located a few miles outside Detroit in Wayne County. 

Wikipedia

State lawmakers are considering bills in this “lame duck” session that would provide one-time relief for property owners facing tax foreclosure in the coming year.

The situation is particularly dire in Wayne County, where the County treasurer has already served foreclosure notices on about 75,000 tax-delinquent properties—about 62,000 in Detroit alone. 

Wayne County plans to foreclose on a record number of properties next year.

The county has begun issuing notices to almost 75,000 properties for delinquent taxes. Of those, more than 80%--about 62,000—are located in Detroit.

The county is required, by state law, to auction off all properties at least three years behind on property taxes.

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has begun tax foreclosure proceedings on nearly 75,000 properties, up 34% from 56,000 last year.

Treasury workers last month began posting notices on properties the county plans to auction next fall if owners don't pay taxes or agree to payment plans.

There are 62,000 properties in Detroit owing $326.4 million in taxes, interest and fees that are set to be foreclosed. Motor City Mapping data analyzed by Loveland Technologies indicates that 37,000 of those Detroit Properties are occupied.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The final round of the annual Wayne County property tax foreclosure auction closed on Tuesday.

This year, about 24,000 properties—the vast majority located in Detroit--were up for auction over two rounds.

The auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as the number of tax-foreclosed properties has soared, and bidding moved online.

More than 7000 of the properties up for auction this year were believed to be occupied.

Neil deGrasse Tyson / Facebook

Tomorrow, Sept. 30, the world-renowned science educator and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will deliver a keynote speech at the Wayne County Community College District Chancellor's Banquet. 

The event will be held at 6 p.m. at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Event proceeds will benefit the Wayne County Community College district scholarship fund. 

Alpena Community College / Facebook

In an effort to raise employment through increased job training, the Obama administration has distributed $450 million to nearly 270 community colleges across the country.

Among these recipients are two community colleges in Michigan: Alpena Community College and Wayne County Community College District in Detroit. The community colleges were selected for their partnerships with employers on job training. Together, they will be receiving nearly $5 million in federal funding.

User: Brett L / flickr

Beginning in October, the University of Michigan will run Wayne County's Medical Examiner's Office. 

The $16.7 million contract will be in effect for three years.

Wayne County's Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Carl Schmidt, says the partnership could allow the county greater access to pathologists, advanced lab facilities, and forensics through the University of Michigan.

“The vision is that we will gain more flexibility in hiring the people that we need. And because of the economies of scale that are provided by the university, we can do things that we used to do at a lower price,” says Schmidt.

The agreement is expected to save taxpayers at least $1.5 million. It's also expected to address criticism the county faced over understaffing and long waits for autopsies.

Relief for former Wayne County executive Robert Ficano as the FBI's investigation into county government ends.
Wayne County / YouTube

Tuesday’s primary election marked the beginning of the end of the scandal-ridden administration of Robert Ficano, Executive of Wayne County.

He placed fifth in the Democratic primary, so former sheriff Warren Evans will likely win the office this November in that Democratic stronghold. But Ficano leaves behind a huge challenge for his successor.

Daniel Howes, business columnist for The Detroit News, joined us today. Howes said Robert Ficano has left Wayne County in a financially poor shape.

“The pension fund is in some way more underfunded than some of the Detroit pension funds. Budgets are out of whack. A lot of white elephant projects. It’s going to be very hard for a successor to unwind, particularly a successor who has basically been a part of the Wayne County and Detroit political law enforcement machine for a very long time, ” Howes said.

* Listen to the full interview with Daniel Howes above.

Westland sometimes is in national trivia contests because it was the first city ever named after a shopping mall.

Bill Wild, Westland’s mayor for the last seven years, has been much less well-known. Perhaps until recently, that is; he is now waging a serious campaign to be elected Wayne County executive. That is, to win the Democratic primary August 5, which essentially guarantees victory in the November election.

Wild may still have more money and less name recognition than his four major rivals. But he is running second in some polls, and has one powerful argument.

“I’m the only candidate who actually has executive experience, who has run both a business and a government,” he told me a couple days ago, when I went to see him at his campaign headquarters on the east side of Detroit. 

That is somewhat true.

via SER Metro

Wayne County officials say a large project proves that building deconstruction is becoming a viable alternative to demolition.

Deconstruction is the process of carefully taking apart abandoned properties, and salvaging as many materials from them as possible.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A handful of Michigan county health department leaders say “health” should play a bigger role in local decision making. 

Health department officials from Wayne, Genesee, Ingham, Kent, Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Washtenaw counties met in Lansing this past week to strategize how to change the way local governments do pretty much everything. 

Linda Vail is Ingham County’s Chief Health Officer.   She says city and county leaders often fail to consider the potential effects their decisions will have on their community’s health.

Wayne County always has been the biggest county in Michigan, at least in terms of people, and it's the most important. Though it includes Detroit, more than a million of its residents live elsewhere, from the affluent leafy suburbs of Plymouth to gritty downriver towns like River Rouge.

They are all very different, but have two things in common. First, they elect an executive, sort of a super mayor to run things. And second, they live in a county in trouble and in deficit.

In recent years, Wayne County has been rocked by personnel scandals and an astonishing farce concerning a half-built jail abandoned after $125 million taxpayer dollars had been wasted.

Now, there are increasing worries that Wayne County, like its largest city, could be facing emergency management. That should be alarming to all of us for the same reason Detroit’s troubles are.

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