State skeptical of Wayne County's deficit cutting plan

Threat of emergency manager looms for Wayne County

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – Wayne County government may need a plan "B" to deal with its, which has grown to $175 million and is growing by $30 million per year.

County Executive Bob Ficano has proposed a plan, but the state treasurer has expressed concern and skepticism about the county's ability to gain approval from the parties which must sign off on the plan.

The treasurer has told the executive state approval for the plan hinges on "confirmation from affected parties, including County elected officials, constituent communities of the wastewater treatment facilities and labor groups who are committed to implementing the various components of the plan."

County Commissioner Gary Woronchak is voicing his concerns.

"I think it raises concerns that I didn't have before that the state might not be feeling as warmly about this plan as we thought they would or as we were told they would," Woronchak said.

The deficit reduction plan relies on the transfer of $81 million in surplus from a Delinquent Revolving Tax Fund to the General Fund, as well as the spin-off of water treatment facilities serving several communities, plus concessions from several labor unions.

Ficano believes it can all be worked out.

"This is very achievable. For one thing, I think all the parties want to avoid getting into the same circumstances as Detroit. I think that's a great incentive for everybody to work together," Ficano said.

Ficano said it is too early to talk about re-tooling the plan before it goes to the treasurer for approval. He plans to submit it by the end of June.

It will face a major test by the end of May,when the county commission casts its first vote on the plan.