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Measures being taken to eliminate county's fiscal crisis

Dear Friends,

Happy Fall! I hope this brief report will find you in good health.

It has been a rocky several years at Wayne County, and even though it may not appear to be headed in that direction, I see a brighter future ahead. I have been quoted in the newspapers and on TV trying to convince county officials that they cannot keep wasting taxpayers' dollars. Unfortunately, too many times, those sentiments fell on deaf ears.

I was able to meet with County Executive Warren Evans soon after he was elected last November and expressed many of my concerns. Later, I met with his staff members to discuss areas where I feel we could net savings and still provide necessary public safety and services. I am happy to report that many of my suggestions were considered and are being implemented into next year's budget.

On another issue, I did not initially vote in favor of the consent order with the State of Michigan, primarily due to my feelings that we could manage the situation on our own. But after reseaching the matter a little more thoroughly, I believed the main reason for the consent order was to show union membership that they had to agree to take cuts in order to avoid the county executive and Commission making that decision for them. Many appointees (non-civil service) are paid more than $100,000 annually and for them, a 5 percent cut in pay is not the same as it is for those individuals making $30,000 to $40,000 a year. Fairness was my greatest concern entering this. Lower-wage employees simply cannot afford the same cuts as those on a higher scale!

I would have liked a different approach and not invited the State of Michigan in so soon. After all, the state gives us unfunded mandates, which is a big part of our financial situation. Honorable people can respect each other's position and fight for their beliefs, and at the end of the day come together on issues that affect all of us in Wayne County.

In closing, please be assured that my staff and I are here waiting to assist you on Wayne County issues. We continuously work side-by-side with various levels of government to ensure the needs and services are met to keep Wayne County on the cutting edge of southeastern Michigan government.

Most Sincerely, Ilona Varga

Commissioner to examine status of county's civil-service workforce

Wayne County is by declaration of its charter a civil-service workforce. Over the years, there were ordinances that exempted certain positions, which were then filled by appointees who did not go through the process of qualification and did not take tests as others who are civil service. The exempted folks are being compensated nicely.

Commissioner Ilona Varga has started the task of compiling and working with colleagues and soon will be taking the list to negotiate with the executive's assigned staff to minimize the need for the exemption, update them and perhaps set salary limits, which she feels has caused unfairness in the workplace.

It is certainly proper for elected officials reserving a couple positions for staff members making quality decisions, and Commissioner Varga says she is fortunate to have such personnel on her staff working together and making a difference.

Commissioner Varga fields a knowledgeable and professional staff, including Laura Hirt, who has been involved with the Commission for many years, and Jesse Gonzales, who can often be found working in the field and handling police matters and attending community meetings.

Commissioner Varga is hoping to turn back the clock and save funding by eliminating what she terms as "unnecessary and made-up positions."

The Commission has not looked at this collectively since the 1990s, prior to Commissioner Varga coming on board. Many of the positions in question were rarely discussed openly by the former executive's staff and, therefore, Commissioner Varga feels this will be an interesting topic to pursue. She said she feels optimistic in streamlining the list to a more realistic and effective workforce.

Hazardous waste collection is set for October 10

Looking to get rid of old, unwanted paint, pesticides or antifreeze? Has a clunky, old-style computer monitor been in your closet for a few years?

The Wayne County Department of Public Services is giving residents a chance to safely dispose of those and other items at a Household Hazardous Waste Collection on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Wayne County Community College District Downriver Campus, 21000 North Line Road, west of Allen Road, in Taylor.

Items acceptable for disposal include household paints, stains and dyes, floor care products, bathroom cleaners, solvents, fertilizer, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, fire extinguishers, mercury thermometers and more.

The electronics recycling portion of the event will accept computer CPUs, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards and mice. Also accepted will be cellphones, fax machines, copiers and televisions.

Only household products from Wayne County residents will be accepted.

No commercial or industrial waste will be taken. Also not allowed are refrigerators, microwaves or other appliances, tires and concrete.

Questions can be directed to the Department of Public Services at 734-326-3936.