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Wayne County commission opts for "consent agreement" to get through financial emergency

With Wayne County in a state-confirmed financial emergency, its leaders are trying to avoid an emergency manager or bankruptcy.

Today, the Wayne County Commissioners went for a third option: a consent agreement.

It’s what County Executive Warren Evans has been pushing for since he asked the state to declare the county in a financial emergency.

Once that emergency was declared, the state gave the county four options: emergency manager or bankruptcy, which nobody wants - or a "neutral evaluation" which basically means mediation, or a consent agreement. 

The consent agreement lets Evans put together a plan to make a lot of cuts in the county -- which is trying to stave off a $170 million deficit.  

And it means he can skip negotiating with the unions if he wants to, because they don't have to agree to the plan. It only has to get approval from the state.

Warren Evans’s office said he didn’t have room in his schedule for an interview today, and sent the following statement:

“Today Wayne County continues on its road to financial recovery. I thank the Wayne County Commission for the selection of Consent Agreement. After carefully considering the available options, they made the right decision. As we finalize the terms of the Consent Agreement with the State Treasurer, we will continue in our commitment to negotiate in good-faith with our unions.  Although a Consent Agreement will eventually give the County the ability to set the terms of employment, our preference is to reach agreements at the bargaining table."

“We have already made significant strides towards getting Wayne County back on the right fiscal path.  The consent agreement will ensure our ability to fully implement our Recovery Plan and stabilize the County for the future.”

Michigan Radio left messages with AFSCME’s Detroit chapter seeking comment. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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