THE BLOG
03/04/2014 04:10 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2014

A Proactive Wayne County Government is Necessary

Government's primary function is to provide the platform for strong, healthy communities. In terms of county government, our objective should be to partner with cities and townships to deliver the services that are most vital to each community.

Wayne County government, under the current administration, has been inward and reactionary-focused. That is very evident in the recently announced proposed deficit elimination plan.

The Robert Ficano Administration's plan to eliminate the county's structural deficit by cutting more than $200 million is based on measures that have not been fully vetted nor agreed upon by the necessary stakeholders.

The administration's plan includes a spinoff of the county's Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) that serves 13 downriver communities. It calls for an authority which will be run and funded by the 13 communities. However, this plan is only an idea at this point with no supporting documentation, and no one has analyzed its value nor determined if the WWTP can even be spun-off.

Additionally, the administration's plan calls for reducing the pension multiplier from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent which I do agree with going forward. All agreements made with Wayne County pensioners to date need to be honored. But, nobody anticipated a 40 year-old former county worker expecting lifetime medical -- we need to look at that.

I do agree with how the proposed deficit elimination plan shifts $81 million of funds from the treasurer's office and reduces the number of jail beds by 200 in the county jail system.

The current Wayne County administration has not delivered a balanced budget in the entire eleven years Ficano has been county executive. The only time the budget was balanced, is when I created the McNamara thirteenth check ordinance that capped the annual thirteenth pension check in order to save the other twelve pension checks and balance the budget.

The devil is in the details, as the saying goes. We've seen many plans shared by the current administration that went wrong. And, those plans had far more supporting documentation than this deficit elimination plan.

We as the Wayne County Commission should approach the county's budget challenges in a very different manner. We should bring city and township leaders to the table to get their input on what county services are most needed by their communities and what they can do without. Then, we prioritize and draft a realistic, balanced plan that provides the best case scenario.

As Wayne County government, we need to start being proactive, not reactive. And, we need to stop presupposing what communities need from the county, and start asking them. Because the communities -- their residents and businesses -- are the ones investing in the services. This type of collaborative effort can be a blueprint for a strong county government well into the future.