CHICAGO — The Wayne County, Mich. board of commissioners is scheduled to vote Thursday on how to resolve its financial emergency.
The county has until Aug. 6 to vote on one of four options for state intervention. They are: entering into a consent agreement with the state; bankruptcy; a neutral evaluator; or an emergency manager.
The board's committee as a whole met Wednesday to discuss the options, with county Executive Warren Evans continuing his push for a consent agreement.
"There are no other options," Evans was quoted as saying in the Detroit News. "It keeps power in the county's hands."
A consent agreement, which was Detroit's first move when the state first declared the city to be in financial emergency, would broaden the county's powers to impose conditions on expired labor contracts, among other things.
Evans said the labor contracts are the largest remaining part of the county's $52 million structural deficit.
He told the board he would not necessarily use the powers given to him in the state consent decree.
"I'm still committed to spending the next 30 days negotiating with our unions," he said, according to local reports. "We're going to do everything we can to strike a deal. But we can't wait."
Evans also said state Treasurer Nick Khouri said the county could be out of a consent agreement by April.
Board Chairman Gary Woronchak, D-Dearborn, reportedly said he's worried that a consent agreement would prompt a mass of retirements and "brain drain." Other commissioners complained that they don't trust the state.
Evans also said the state wants to see a plan for the county's half-built, bond-financed jail in downtown Detroit.
The county halted work on the facility last summer amid cost overruns, and Evans has said repeatedly that it can't finish the work because it can't access the capital markets to borrow the money. The state wants a plan by the end of January.
Eight votes from the 15-member board are needed to approve any option. Evans originally asked for state intervention, and the consent agreement, on June 17. He says the county faces a $52 million structural deficit, a $900 million unfunded pension liability and $1.3 billion retiree health care tab. As part of Evans' recovery plan, the county will no longer cover retiree health care.
Gov. Rick Snyder determined that the county was in a financial emergency on July 22, after a state review team examined the county's books and made the recommendation.