A Thank You to the Residents of Wayne County For Your Support
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the residents of Wayne County for believing in me and my team as we continue to serve the county with integrity and strong leadership. Because of your overwhelming support, we have been able to achieve far more than anyone - including myself - would have thought possible when I was first elected to office in 2014. Together, we have done great things, but there's still more work to do. Here is some of what my administration plans to focus on as we move forward:
Wayne County has received $339 million dollars in American Rescue Plan ACT (ARPA) funds. To determine the best way to spend this money we engaged the community by conducting over 100 feedback meetings; We also opened an online portal to obtain collaborative suggestions and received almost $3 billion worth of requests. As we evaluated every request, six common themes began to reveal themselves in all the requests that were made. I intend to focus our efforts using ARPA funds to attract additional resources from our partners in the state capital and in Washington. The plan is to team up with our local municipalities to target the six impact areas:
o HEALTH and WELL-BEING: We must work on providing all constituents access to high quality healthcare options. For far too long, life expectancy has been tied to "zip codes" and there are certain areas of the County that do not have access to basic healthcare. We need to change that. Also, we must focus on mental health challenges and provide solutions that reinforce the need for dignity and respect.
o INFRASTRUCTURE: We will invest in our roads, bridges, seawalls and drains to ensure we have an adequate infrastructure that manages our natural habitats and meets safety goals for reliable transportation and delivery of goods and services. We must also meet future needs by ensuring our power grid and technology systems can provide the connectivity that will be required for the emerging electric vehicle industry or remote work requirements.
o AMENITIES: We will continue to invest in our parks, trails and waterways to ensure residents have access to clean, quiet, healthy living options through high quality recreational environments.
o AFFORDABLE HOUSING: We will continue to promote affordable housing alternatives that accommodate individual and blended family needs. We plan on continuing our rental assistance program to provide immediate relief from economic challenges due to Covid and will provide more resources for housing rehabs to increase our low-income housing stock.
o WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: To meet the needs of evolving career opportunities, we will invest in workforce development. We must invest in skill-enhancement, provide on-the-job training and remove barriers to getting and keeping solid employment. Details on our workforce development program will be announced in the coming weeks.
o ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Finally, we will invest in economic development by providing more small business resources that close leadership and operational "gaps" faced by many small businesses. We will also seek to partner with local municipalities to grow and support "Main Street" business districts within Wayne County.
Now, I want to take a moment to highlight some of our accomplishments from the past four years:
â— Last year, both rating agencies of Moody's and Standard & Poor's increased the County's credit rating and today we have an 'A' credit rating from Wall Street for sound fiscal management and operational success.
â— Distributed over 4 million masks and other PPE and administered hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses. Because of these efforts, our County went from having the highest COVID-19 infection rate with the most deaths in the state in 2020, to having over 70% of our residents fully vaccinated with lower infection rates than the State average.
â— Completed the first year of a contract with a new public defender office - the Neighborhood Defender Service Detroit (NDS) - which continues to offer legal options to the community that apply holistic defense principles to improve case and social outcomes for clients. Because NDS is robustly involved early on in assigned cases, the accused may be able to keep their jobs and remain in the community when appropriate, which reduces the risk of recidivism and keeps families together. It also builds our resiliency and strengthens our workforce.
â— Pushed forward with our Capital Improvement Projects and Heavy Maintenance Program with over 30 lanes miles of heavy maintenance, 24 road rehabilitation projects, 6 bridge reconstruction projects and 3 bridge rehabilitation projects in 2020. In 2021, DPS completed 100 lane miles of preventative maintenance, an approximate increase of 30% over the previous year, and 80 lane miles of paving, an increase of 40%.
â— Implemented capital improvement projects utilizing the Wayne County Parks Millage totaling over $1.3 million. This included facility and site improvements throughout the park system such as:
o The new playground at Inkster Park, the Ann Arbor Trail Connector, which features a non-motorized trail and bridge over the Middle Rouge River, ADA Parking, picnic tables, grills, benches, improved signage, and fishing platforms.
o The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which will restore natural habitats along the Middle and Lower Rouge Rivers, improving water quality and plant and animal habitats throughout the Wayne County Parks System.
o An on-line picnic permit reservations system implemented on June 1, 2021, to make booking picnic shelters more convenient for Wayne County residents.
â— Negotiated with our local communities and our County Commissioners on a new formula for how we spend our HUD funding. Today, we have more than doubled our spending in low-income areas, so that communities like Inkster, Hamtramck, Ecorse, River Rouge, Romulus, Highland Park, and Harper Woods are all seeing the benefit of those negotiated changes. Not only has the County has been able to spend $2.3 Million dollars to preserve the historic legacy of Hamtramck's Negro League stadium, but we were also able to:
o Allocate $800,000 for the Dozier Community Center in Inkster.
o Purpose over $2 million dollars for the demolition of distressed and blighted properties in Highland Park, Ecorse, and River Rouge.
o Completely renovate the Historical Museum in Wayne.
â— We did all this while making sure all County employees received a 2.5% pay increase, adding to our fund balance which now sits at $159 Million dollars and making sure that no Wayne County Employee makes less than $15 dollars an hour.
So again, thank you Wayne County for the vote of confidence and let's keep the progress going!
Warren C. Evans, Your Wayne County Executive