Wayne County Commission likely to approve Ficano's deficit plan

Commission ready to vote on executive's deficit elimination plan


DETROIT – Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's plan to eliminate nearly $200 million in deficits appears headed for County Commission approval.

Commissioners approved the controversial plan for a full commission vote with an 8-5 vote on Tuesday with two commissioners absent. The measure appeared headed to defeat until an 11th-hour move to restore retiree health care benefits.

Under a previous plan, more than 5,500 current retirees would lose county-provided health care and be given an allowance for purchasing benefits on the health care exchange. Some commissioners believe the last-minute move is merely a temporary reprieve designed to win votes.

"I would never vote for this (deficit) plan because of the fact that I feel that you're just trying to do this to get it through now, and then as soon as it's through and you get the state approval you'll just go ahead and implement that any how," said Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman.

Chief Financial Officer Mark Abbo, the plan's architect, said while he cannot commit to restoring the benefits permanently, the county has no intention of cutting them at this time or in the future.

Commissioners also expressed reservations about a plan to sell county wastewater treatment facilities to 13 Downriver communities they service. All but one community has rejected the offer and lawsuits are anticipated if the plan is approved by the full commission on Thursday.