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Guiding Principle # 1: Ensure Long-Term Fiscal Stability

 Introduction by Verna McDaniel, Washtenaw County Administrator


Budget Puzzle


As I mentioned in the State of the County presentation delivered to the Board of Commissioners on May 15, 2013, Washtenaw County government faces a projected $7 million deficit for 2014-2017.  This deficit is structural in nature, and must be addressed: the County is constitutionally obligated to present a balanced budget every year.  The good news is that we have been working diligently to ensure the County's long-term fiscal stability through a number of measures, including the containment of our legacy retirement costs by closing our pension and retiree health care plans to new employees; reducing our current health care costs through wellness incentives; moving to a four-year budget process; and negotiating ten-year contracts with our unionized workforce.

The other good news is that the County's property tax revenue - the General Fund's main source of revenue - is projected to grow at a rate of 1.35% per year over the next four years.  This increase will result in an additional $2.4 million in revenue for our General Fund.  At the same time, I am also working with all the Departments in County government to identify $1.83 million in operating cost reductions throughout the organization.  We are confident that this number - while certainly not painless - will be achievable.  In addition, out of necessity, we are preparing to reduce the County's contributions to outside agencies by $100,000.  Again, this proposition gives me no pleasure, but the County's long-term fiscal stability must be paramount in our deliberations.

And yet, even with all this hard work, we still face a daunting $5.06 million increase in our annual required contributions to the retiree pension and health care funds.  There are many reasons for this increase - and you can read more about those in the pages that follow - but the bottom line is: we need to find a way to address this obligation, and we need to do so without delay.

The Board of Commissioners has directed us to explore two main alternatives for doing so:

Alternative A: Bond Issuance

Alternative B: Additional Operating Cost Reductions through Cuts to Programs & Services 


Verna McDaniel, Washtenaw County Administrator, may be reached via email at

Residents of Washtenaw County are encouraged to contact their elected representative on the Board of Commissioners.  Identify your Commissioner at, or simply call the Board of Commissioners’ office at (734) 222-6850 to let your views be known.


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