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Commission turns its attention to CEO's reorganization plan

When a new Wayne County executive is elected, the office is required to submit a reorganization plan. County Executive Warren Evans, who took office in January, has crafted a plan with several departmental changes in light of the county's deficit.

On March 31, CEO Evans forwarded his reorganization plan to the Wayne County Commission, which has 90 days to review and cast its vote either in favor or against the plan. If approved, this plan is projected to save nearly $3.7 million annually and is one important step in the lengthy and difficult process of erasing the county's $70 million deficit.

Here are some highlights:

  • The departments of Health and Human Services, Children and Family Services, and Senior and Veterans Services, along with the Division of Community Development, would be merged into the new Department of Health, Community Wellness and Senior Services, which is projected to save approximately $570,000 annually and merge services offered in different places.
  • EDGE, or the Department of Economic Development Growth Engine, would be eliminated and activities would move to the Wayne County Economic Development Corp. to save about $550,000 annually.
  • The Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility staff would be reduced to reflect it operating at 55 to 60 percent of capacity. The county and state would each save $700,000 annually.
  • Offenders would be moved from the Alternative Work Force to nonprofit service to save $800,000 annually.
  • The Wayne County Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which serves an average of 10 walk-in patrons daily, would become a mailing service provided by the state, saving about $400,000 annually.
  • The family homeless shelter in Westland would close. Families would receive vouchers for hotel/motel lodging, saving about $330,000 annually.
  • Management of the Meals on Wheels program that serves Downriver and western Wayne County would be transferred to The Senior Alliance, saving about $340,000 annually.

"My colleagues and I will do our due diligence in reviewing this plan and determining the best course for Wayne County to pursue in erasing the deficit," Commissioner Martha G. Scott said. "We must be united in striving for excellence for all residents of Wayne County."

Vet connect

Partnership aims to improve services offered for veterans

Officials from the Wayne County Veterans Services Division were looking for a way to provide assistance to veterans beyond the scope of what it could offer.

A public-private partnership proved to be the answer.

Kevin Kelley, Wayne County director of Senior and Veterans Services, brought a Veterans Consortium Agreement proposal to the Wayne County Commission - and, just as important, a private donor brought a $10,000 check to kick it off.

The check was presented by Robert Miller, president of the nonprofit Real Estate Donations USA, at the Commission's Special Committee on Senior Citizens and Veterans Affairs meeting March 19. Also participating was William Sumner, president of the nonprofit My Vet Connect and chairman/CEO of Health Management Systems of America (HMSA). Miller's charity is based in the HMSA building at 601 Washington, downtown Detroit.

Real Estate Donations USA has donated more than $4 million to several causes, including those involving veterans. It presented houses to two veterans at the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.

My Vet Connect, which is using private money, is a partnership among HMSA, the Wayne County Veterans Services Division and the Veterans Community Action Team, which is an outgrowth of the division and has relationships with more than 200 organizations that help veterans. The partnership must be approved by the full Wayne County Commission.

My Vet Connect aims to connect veterans and their dependents to vital services like job placement, counseling and financial assistance, among others. Call the Veterans Services Division at 313-224-5045 for more information

Healthy Start Detroit provides pregnant women with improved services, support

The Institute for Population Health's Healthy Start Detroit program is geared toward providing improved birth outcomes for African-American women.

The program is for women who are pregnant; are the parent of a child age two or younger; between the ages of 18 and 45; and living in the following ZIP codes: 48203, 48205, 48212, 48213, 48224 or 48234.

Healthy Start services include: health education; infant safe sleep education; information on family planning and between-conception care; insurance enrollment assistance; information on community resources; home visits for pregnant women and families with babies; parenting groups; and Transition to Success, a family empowerment program.

Call 313-309-9330 for more information.

Youngsters can apply for summer jobs

Grow Detroit's Young Talent is offering young residents of the city a chance to get a summer job.

The program is for those ages 14 to 24 who are residents of Detroit and eligible to work in the United States. Applicants must commit to six weeks of part-time work for 20 hours per week and attend job training sessions. July 1 is the application deadline. Applications are at gdyt.org/youth/.

If there are more applicants than jobs, participants will be chosen by lottery.

Latest installment of Citizen's Guide is now available

For many residents, the function of Wayne County government is somewhat of a mystery.

To shed light on the process, the Wayne County Commission has published its second edition of "A Citizen's Guide to Wayne County Government," with updated information for the 2015-16 term, which began in January.

The 24-page booklet explaining how county government works, including its budget, along with its history, is now available to residents in District 3.

In addition, the guide offers contact information for commissioners, as well as other elected officials, and various departments throughout the county.

"The Wayne County guide is an excellent source of information right there at your fingertips," Commissioner Martha G. Scott said. "County government continues to evolve, and this publication enables constituents to stay apprised of any changes."

The Citizen's Guide is available online under the "News & Resources" menu on the commission's home page at waynecounty.com/commission.