WAYNE COUNTY, Michigan – Among the items voters will consider on a long ballot in the upcoming election will be five proposed amendments to the Wayne County Home Rule Charter.
“The county charter sets the framework of Wayne County government, just as the state Constitution directs Michigan government, like a rule book for how the government does its business,” said Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak, D-Dearborn.
Woronchak said the county commission is providing detailed information on each of the proposed amendments on the Wayne County Commission website . A link on that page will direct voters to a full explanation of each amendment, including a summary, ballot language and showing how the charter section would read if the amendment is approved.
Most counties in Michigan are set up under general state law, but state also allows counties to establish their own home rule charters, created by an elected charter commission and voted on by the people.
Wayne County was the first to become a charter county, in 1981, and was the only one until Macomb adopted a charter in 2009. In a charter county, executive powers are removed from the board of commissioners and given to an elected chief executive officer.
“The charter came from the people, and only the people can change it,” said Woronchak, who established and chaired a special committee this year to study the charter and suggest revisions. From that committee’s work, the Wayne County Commission voted to ask voters on Nov. 6 to consider amendments that would:
- Change the membership of the county retirement system’s governing board by adding the county treasurer as a ninth member, give airport employees full rights as members of the retirement system, and allow all elected officials who are automatic members to designate a representative on the board.
- Allow the governor to remove the county’s elected chief executive officer in the same manner and with the same due process under which he can already remove other countywide elected officials.
- Give the Wayne County Commission the authority to set the format of the county budget (line-item or lump-sum).
- Give the Wayne County Commission the authority to approve compensation for all county employees.
- Change the limitations on the auditing firms contracted to conduct an annual external audit of county finances.
“Some of these are technical in nature, but all would change some aspect of how county government is run,” Woronchak said.
“I know this year’s ballot is already jammed,” Woronchak said, citing state ballot questions, judicial races at various levels of courts, school board elections and partisan races on federal, state and local levels. “I hope the information we are providing on the proposed charter amendments will help voters prepare in advance to cast informed ballots on these county matters.”