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Consent Agreement Looming? Wayne County Seeks Financial Emergency Declaration

DETROIT (AP) - Mired under a $52 million structural deficit, local officials asked the state Wednesday to declare a financial emergency in Michigan's most populous county.

The request for Wayne County was made in a letter from county Executive Warren Evans to Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri.

Evans said he wants to enter into a consent agreement with the state that will allow the county to continue negotiations with its stakeholders. Last week, Evans announced an agreement with about 5,000 retirees that will cut their health care benefits while saving the county around $20 million each year.

"Our recovery plan provides a clear path to financial stability for the county, but we are keenly aware that our time frame to get the job done is quickly fading," Evan said in a statement. "Throughout this process we are constantly evaluating where we stand and proactively seeking solutions to work ourselves out of this massive deficit."

The letter outlined some of the county's financial issues, said Terry Stanton, Treasury spokesman.

"The treasurer will review the letter, determining whether or when a preliminary review will start," Stanton said.

A consent agreement would provide for remedial measures to address a financial emergency and may utilize state financial management and technical assistance to help alleviate it.

Wayne County has about 1.7 million residents. The county seat is located in Detroit, and Wayne's financial troubles follow the city's emergence late last year from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Detroit shed or restructured $7 billion in debt during its bankruptcy.

Evans announced a spending freeze in March, which blocked the filling of vacant positions and pay raises for current employees unless mandated by union contracts. It also restricted overtime, travel and major repairs. At the time, the county's pension system was less than 50 percent funded.

Evans was elected in November and inherited an unfinished downtown jail project that ran nearly $100 million over budget. Work has been stopped on the jail.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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