Recently, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans made a formal request to Treasurer Nick Khouri seeking release from the Consent Agreement, which the County and State entered into on Aug. 21, 2015.
“We’ve stuck to our ‘Recovery Plan’ and come very far in a short period of time,” said Executive Evans. “There’s much more work to do, but we’re on a sustainable path and I think the state recognizes that. I look forward to exiting the Consent Agreement and taking the next steps toward securing a financially strong future for the County.”
The Consent Agreement required the County to eliminate its structural deficit and demonstrate that fiscal stability has been restored. In order for the County to be released from the Consent Agreement, it must receive written notification from the State Treasurer that it has complied with the agreement.
The Evans administration’s “Recovery Plan” has eliminated a $52 million structural deficit and $82 million accumulated deficit while restructuring employee and retiree health care to eliminate $829 million in unfunded obligations. The County has also reduced its unfunded pension liabilities from $817 million to $636 million from Sept. 30, 2014 to Sept. 20, 2015. The County has also balanced its budget two years in a row with an accumulated unassigned surplus of $35.7 million for fiscal year 2015. That accumulated unassigned surplus is projected to increase for fiscal year 2016 once final numbers are available.
“In less than two years, we’ve identified the fiscal problems and taken swift action to address them. The County faces significant challenges ahead, but is on its best footing in quite some time,” Evans said.
These efforts have been noticed by credit rating agencies, which have resulted in favorable rankings. Last week, Moody’s upgraded the County’s bond rating and elevated its financial outlook from stable to positive. In June, Standard & Poor’s upgraded the County’s financial outlook from negative to positive and Fitch Ratings upgraded the County’s bond rating to BB+.
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“We’ve eliminated the structural deficit, significantly reduced our unfunded pension obligations and most importantly, changed the culture in Wayne County government,” Executive Evans said. “Every day we’re responsibly working to stretch our dollars to improve the services we deliver to the community.”
In June of 2015, Executive Evans took the bold step of requesting the State of Michigan’s Department of Treasury conduct a financial review, which resulted in the declaration of a Financial Emergency in Wayne County.
On Aug. 13, 2015, the 15-member Wayne County Commission approved the Consent Agreement. Executive Evans signed the Consent Agreement on Aug. 17, 2015, and the document was transmitted to, and then signed by, State Treasurer Khouri on Aug. 21, 2015, making the Consent Agreement effective.