WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – Officials said Wayne County will lay off or furlough 227 employees and leave 606 positions unfilled.
This is meant to address a budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and save the county $30.3 million. There is a $152 million projected deficit.
The decision was approved by the County Commission after negotiations with employee bargaining units.
“This is a difficult but necessary step to help balance the county’s budget in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “I thank Commission Chairwoman Bell and her fellow commissioners for ratifying my administration’s recommendations to reduce costs during this emergency.”
The unpaid furlough will last 90 days at least. It can be extended to 150 days. All but one County unions agreed to furloughs as an alternative to layoffs. Furloughed employees retain benefits, like health insurance.
“I also want to thank the members of local unions for working with the County and agreeing to participate in unpaid furloughs for some of their members,” Evans said. “I also want to express my disappointment that our largest union did not accept unpaid furloughs instead of layoffs as we all work to balance the County’s budget during this public health emergency.”
A spending and salary freeze was ordered by Evans on Monday. All overtime, travel, operating services, supplies, professional services, other charges, acquisitions, major repairs, subscriptions, memberships, equipment and capital purchases, and other expenditures shall require special approval by an Executive Review Committee.
“I am cognizant of the hardship this decision creates for our employees who are most affected,” said Evans. “We have taken steps to ensure continued health benefits with no immediate cost to furloughed employees, and the county will process unemployment applications for furloughed employees, which we hope will make this transition a little easier.”
Projections show a revenue loss of $152 million over the second half of the county’s current fiscal year.