CHICAGO - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday affirmed his earlier declaration that Wayne County is in a financial emergency, a move that advances a likely partial state takeover of the county.
The county board now has until Aug. 6 to choose among four options offered under state law to governments in financial emergency. The county can ask to file for bankruptcy; request a consent agreement with the state; request a neutral evaluator; or ask for an emergency manager.
The county is widely expected to opt for entering into a consent agreement with the state. The move, which is being pushed by county Executive Warren Evans, would give the county broader powers to impose reforms on expired labor contracts and would leave the bulk of the restructuring in local hands.
But critics, including some commissioners, warn that a consent agreement can end up leading to a full state takeover, as happened in the case of Detroit, which is Wayne County's largest city.
Commissioners debated the options at a July 28 meeting, according to local reports.
"We have a difficult decision ahead of us because we have to choose from one of these four options," Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak, D-Dearborn, was quoted as saying in the Detroit News. "They may seem simple on their face, but there are little trap doors along the way that we should well be aware of while we're making this decision."
The board is set to meet again Aug. 5.
Snyder initially determined that the county is in financial emergency on July 22, after a state team reviewed the county's books and made the recommendation.
"I remain in agreement with the conclusion of the independent financial review team's report," Snyder said in a statement. "Officials have taken steps to begin addressing the county's crisis, but there can be no disputing that a financial emergency exists and must be addressed swiftly and surely to ensure residents continue to receive the services they need and deserve and the county can continue its economic recovery."