“We are again presenting a responsible and balanced budget that continues to navigate the County to financial stability,” said Executive Evans. “The fiscal discipline we put in place early in my Administration is beginning to translate into progress for the County, allowing us to make important investments, to become more efficient, and to better serve the residents and businesses in Wayne County.”
The budget addresses the Evans Administration’s commitment to financial reform while also delivering quality services to County residents. This includes aligning spending with revenues, safeguarding funds for emergencies and focusing on countywide investments that help to enhance public safety. Using last year’s budget process as a model approach, the Administration collaborated with elected officials and department directors to reach an acceptable and realistic budget.
This budget fully integrates the $53 million in savings outlined in the Evans Administration’s Recovery Plan, which was implemented during fiscal year 2016. The budget also includes continued cost savings from pension and healthcare.
By stabilizing the County and better managing finances, Executive Evans was able to focus on putting resources behind top priorities. Highlights in the proposed budget include:
County Surplus: Securing the County’s financial future through strategic, long-term planning has been a priority of the Evans Administration. In 2015, the County ended the fiscal year with an accumulated unassigned surplus of $35.7 million, of which $5.7 is available for General Fund operations. This was the County’s first accumulated surplus in eight years. By the end of FY 2015-16, the County is projecting an unrestricted surplus of $17 million. The unrestricted surplus projection in FY 2016-17 is $10.5 million and the projected unrestricted surplus in 2017-18, is $3.5 million. The accumulated unassigned surplus available for General Fund operations is projected to increase to $22.8 million in FY 2015-16, $33.3 million in FY 2016-17 and $36.8 million in FY 2017-18. These savings were generated by the implementation of the 2015 Recovery Plan.
Public Safety: The Evans Administration continues to prioritize improvements to public safety. This budget takes a two-pronged approach to investing in public safety by providing additional supports for the Sheriff and Prosecutor’s office. In the Sheriff’s office, vehicles are one of the primary tools used to do their jobs effectively. After years of tremendous wear and tear, their fleet is in need of replacement vehicles. This budget funds the Sheriff’s office with $600,000 to replace aging and outdated vehicles.
In the Prosecutor’s office, the budget proposes an additional $1 million to expand on current efforts to eliminate the rape kit backlog, includes $150,000 in increased funding to evaluate Juvenile without Parole Prosecutions and provides funding for additional staffing in the Warrant Division.
Wayne County Justice Center: A foremost priority of the Evans Administration has been to address the County’s financial challenges so that it can address the other pressing issue of the unfinished jail project. Included in this budget is an additional $10.5 million in debt service funding for completion of the stalled jail project. This funding sets the stage for the County to move forward with a cost-effective plan to complete the jail in a timely manner.
Technology Infrastructure: Operational efficiency is a key priority of the Evans Administration and the investment into modernizing the County’s technology is an important step. The budget includes investing in a new countywide financial and human resource intergraded software system. The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system will replace two existing antiquated systems that are deficient, both technically and functionally. The ERP system allows the County to consolidate data, significantly improve accuracy in tracking contracts and grants, and identify training needs and supports for County employees. This budget provides $7.5 million in funding in FY 2016-17 and $7.5 million in funding in FY 2017-18 toward this upgrade.
The budget funds $775,000 for the Clerk’s office to upgrade its vital records tracking software. This upgrade will improve resident’s access to important documentation relating to major life events and helps the Clerk’s office maintain the integrity of all vital records.
Roads and Parks: The Evans Administration is committed to improving more than 730 primary County roads and enhancing the County’s 41 parks and recreational facilities. This budget includes $14.7 million to fund the Wayne County parks system, which operates hundreds of high-quality programs and events. Additionally, for non-County parks and recreational programs run by cities and townships, $1.2 million in funding has been proposed. The budget also funds the Department of Public Services’ Roads Division with $137 million. This important funding includes $101 million for maintenance and repairs and $36 million for Capital Improvements.
“This budget shows our commitment to make the County whole again,” said Executive Evans. “As we continue to do the work that allows the County to become fiscally strong, we will also continue to find innovative ways to stretch dollars to support the programs and services that improve the quality of life for our residents.We have accomplished a lot with this and last year’s budget, but it is important that we maintain our focus because there is much more room for us to grow.”
Executive Evans has created a new financial culture for the County and as a result, the County has seen significant improvements in its financial status. These efforts have been noticed by credit rating agencies, which have resulted in favorable rankings. Last month, Standard & Poor’s upgraded the County’s financial outlook from negative to positive and Fitch Ratings upgraded the County’s Bond Rating to BB+. These milestones are the important steps the County needs to take in order to secure a financially strong future.
Wayne County’s fiscal year begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th. The Wayne County Commission holds public hearings on the budget and has until August 31, 2016 to adopt the proposed budget.
Complete details of the proposed budget can be found on the County’s homepage at www.waynecounty.com.