DETROIT — Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans signed executive order 2020-001 instituting hiring and spending freezes across the county’s government in response to a projected revenue shortfall of at least $152 million created by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown.
“The ongoing global pandemic and ‘Stay Home’ orders are putting a tremendous strain on the county’s ability to fund essential services at current levels,” Evans said. “This order is a proactive step to ensure we can balance our books without significantly impacting service levels.”
The order specifies current and future vacant full-time, part-time and temporary positions as well as contract personnel shall remain unfilled, and salary and wages shall remain frozen except when raises are required by collective bargaining agreements.
All overtime, travel, operating services, supplies, professional services, other charges, acquisitions, major repairs, subscriptions, memberships, equipment and capital purchases, and other expenditures will now require special approval by an Executive Review Committee, a press release said.
“Our goal is to avoid layoffs and service reductions as much as possible,” Evans said. “My administration intends to collaboratively work with other county officials and unions on solutions to the fiscal challenge created by coronavirus, just as we did to resolve the county’s financial emergency when I took office.”
Initial projects show a revenue loss of $152 million over the second half of the county’s current 2019-2020 fiscal year. The Evans administration is working with other Wayne County officials on an updated two-year budget forecast that assesses every and department as well as evaluated potential investment losses in pension and other post-employment benefit plans.
“In Wayne County, we’ve delivered five straight budget surpluses without raising taxes, built a rainy-day fund and improved our credit rating to investment grade; but that isn’t enough to weather a once-in-a-century pandemic,” Evans said. “Local governments across Michigan and the nation will be strained to a breaking point without assistance. If the federal government can explore bailouts for airlines and the oil industry, they should help local government with resources for roads, parks, schools and police.”