Surplus or Deficit in Wayne County?

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Last week at the Michigan Chronicle’s Pancakes and Politics speaker forum, Wayne County executive Robert Ficano said the county’s budget was balanced, and even had a bit of surplus. “Wayne County is functioning very well,” Ficano said last Friday morning.

But that’s not true according to a report published in The Detroit News today. The article stated that Wayne County is actually facing a general fund deficit so steep, that county officials are looking to use grant money earmarked for other programs to stave back economic fallout. 

The Detroit News’ Steve Pardo reports:

 “Under state law, counties with deficits need to submit five-year deficit reduction plans. Wayne County is the only county in the state submitting such a plan; it already qualifies for emergency manager status, meeting four of 18 triggers spelled out under state law,” the report stated.

So which is it? Or can it be both?

Yes, it can. The whole picture shows that by certain measures, both statments are true. In the fiscal year of 2011, yes, Wayne County had balanced the budget and a surplus mostly income from a legal settlement between the County and the 3rd Circuit Court according to county CFO, Carla Sledge.

But that doesn’t mean the county doesn’t owe big time cash. The overall County deficit weighs in at around $154 million, according to Auditor General Willie Mayo. While that’s not terrible news, (In 2010 the comprehensive budget defifict in Wayne County was $253 million) it’s no light bill. And for Ficano to cliam that the the county is prospering is a bit of a stretch.

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