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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2019
H****istoric Wilcox, Newburgh mills sale approved, closer to reinvention
Redeveloping former Ford Motor Company mills will enhance Hines Park, better connect communities
DETROIT – The Wayne County Commission today approved Purchase and Development Agreements for the Wilcox Mill, located in the city of Plymouth, and Newburgh Mill, located in Livonia, properties adjacent to Hines Park. The sales passed by a vote of 11-3. The Commission also approved an agreement for the County to acquire 16.73 acres in Westland from the Wayne County Land Bank that will be added to the Hines Park footprint.
Under the terms of the sale, and as part of the Mill Run Placemaking Project, the new owners agree to redevelop the vacant mill structures in compliance with the Secretary of Interior’s standards for rehabilitation, create new trail connections on the sites, and open green space that is currently inaccessible to the public.
As part of the purchase and development agreements for both Wilcox and Newburgh, the County retains first right of refusal to repurchase the property should the new owners decide to sell them in the future. The sale price for 4.3-acre Wilcox site is $360,000 and $405,000 for the 1.8-acre Newburgh site. Revenue from the sales will be reinvested into Wayne County Parks.
“This deal allows the transformation of the mills from eyesores into true community assets for Plymouth and Livonia while preserving an important part of our history,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “These projects also ensure the land surrounding the mills becomes public accessible and better connects Hines Park with surrounding communities.”
Wilcox Mill will be purchased by Mill on Rouge LLC created by local artist Tony Roko and the Art Foundation. They plan to rehabilitate the building into an art education space and construct a publicly-accessible “inner child sculpture garden” on the surrounding land that displays three-dimension realizations of children’s drawings.
Newburgh Mill will be purchased by Newburg Mill LLC operated by local developer Richard Cox. Once renovated, Newburgh Mill is expected to be a distillery with additional retail space as well as park space in the shape of a spiral, meant to reflect the automotive parts once manufactured on the site. Cox is responsible for the successful rehabilitation of the Northville Mill into modern office space. He also purchased Phoenix Mill in Plymouth Township from Wayne County in 2018 and has begun rehabilitating that property into an event facility with public green space.
“We were at risk of losing these mills forever. These are the product of a collaborative effort to identify redevelopment solutions for these mills,” said Assistant County Executive Khalil Rahal. “Our economic development team, Wayne County Parks, local leaders, and community stakeholders worked together throughout this process to ensure we crafted the right deal for both properties.”
Wilcox and Newburgh mills as well as Phoenix Mill and Nankin Mills were part of the “Ford Village Industries” network of parts factories located along the Middle Rouge River and were deeded to the County by the Ford Motor Company in 1948.
Nankin Mills remains Wayne County property and houses the Parks Division’s offices and an interpretive center, which recently underwent an approximately $800,000 renovation. The remaining three mills were largely used by the County as administrative and storage space.
“The mill properties were essentially inaccessible to the public for more than 70 years,” said Evans. “These deals ensure the development connects it with local communities and the larger network of non-motorized trails as well as enhances Hines Park with unique destinations that will celebrate our heritage.”
The sale of Newburgh and Wilcox was unanimously approved 7-0 by the Commission’s Committee of Public Services on Tuesday, November 26. As part of the purchase agreement Wayne County acquires 16.73 acres of the former Hawthorne Valley Golf Course property in Westland and is required to maintain the property as a park creating pedestrian trails and other recreation or conservation improvements.
“Acquiring additional park space will provide increased connections to Hines Park and recreational benefits to the community,” said Beverly Watts, Director of Public Services for Wayne County. “This type of initiative supports the vision of our strategic master plan and future planning of our parks.”
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.waynecounty.com/millrun/
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2019
FITCH RATING UPGRADES WAYNE COUNTY, MI TWO NOTCHES TO BBB+ FROM BBB-
DETROIT – Fitch Ratings has upgraded Wayne County’s credit rating two notches to BBB+ from BBB-. The ratings agency determined the County’s financial outlook is stable.
Fitch cites Wayne County’s “moderate long-term liability burden and strong financial resilience” as reasons for the BBB+ rating, which is considered investment grade.
“This upgrade by Fitch further demonstrates that Wayne County’s recovery plan has led to a sustainable, efficient government and built the foundation for the long-term rebuilding of the County,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “We have reduced our long-term liabilities, developed a reserve, and we are better prepared to weather future economic downturns. This upgrade reflects that reality.”
Fitch’s determination, published in a November 26, 2019 report, highlighted a steady decline in unemployment, improved budget flexibility, and tax base growth as positive indicators of the county’s health. However, the report cited poverty and state regulations that “inhibits the county's ability to realize revenue commensurate with growth in the property tax base” as challenges still facing Wayne County.
“We cannot ignore these red flags about poverty and local funding,” said Evans. “The Fitch report echoes concerns raised by Moody’s earlier this year. Even Wall Street recognizes poverty isn’t an isolated problem. It affects Wayne County as a whole. It’s critical that local and county governments have the resources to address poverty and aggressively pursue policies, such as regional transit, that create opportunities for residents and maintain our momentum.”
Wayne County’s credit is currently rated as investment-grade by Wall Street’s two other major ratings agencies, Moody’s (Baa1) and S&P (BBB+).
Since taking office in 2015, the Evans Administration has eliminated a $52 million structural and an $82 million accumulated budget deficit, delivered four consecutive budget surpluses, and increased Wayne County’s pension funding from 45% to 62%.
Wayne County faced unfunded liabilities of $810 million for pensions and $1.3 billion for OPEB in 2015. As of 2018, the County still faces $545.6 million in unfunded pension liabilities and $178.1 million unfunded OPEB liabilities.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2019
Jim Martinez, 313-320-1365
Regional leaders support Municipal Partnership Act revision as way forward on transit
Legislative change allows Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties to pursue 3-county plan
ROYAL OAK- Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans joined with Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter, Washtenaw County Board of Commissioner Chair Jason Morgan, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to support a proposed revision to Michigan’s Municipal Partnership Act (MPA). The regional leaders say MPA revisions provide an additional mechanism and first step toward expanding regional transit in Southeast Michigan.
With the support of Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), State Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance), the bill sponsor, joined the announcement on the Royal Oak Campus of Beaumont Health with several other elected officials.
“The MPA gives local leaders an opportunity to craft and finance a substantive, politically-viable transit plan for Wayne, Washtenaw, and Oakland counties,” said Evans. “Transit is a priority for our region and offers a potential pathway to a regional solution. At this point in time, we need to move forward with a coalition of the willing and the urgency this issue deserves.”
The proposed MPA revisions (House Bill 5229) would make technical revisions to the current law, passed in 2011, so that the region can have greater flexibility in finding a solution to transit.
“We are asking the Michigan Legislature to give us this tool so that we can begin the hard work of developing a transit plan that provides value to our communities,” Coulter said. “Done right, improved transit and mobility has the potential to enhance economic development, resolve workforce constraints, and improve the quality of life for our residents.”
House Bill 5229 will ensure municipal partnerships will be transparent and accountable to residents. Under the proposed legislation, voters in participating jurisdictions have the right to approve millages for any partnership. Additionally, millage revenue for partnerships will be protected from DDA or TIF captures. As with other regional endeavors, such as the DIA and Zoo, millage revenue for partnerships will not be subject to millage caps.
“We have been working on solving our regional transit challenges for years to allow us to compete against other states for major economic opportunity and investment,” Duggan said. “This legislation is a big first step toward a transit solution that has escaped us for too long.”
If the changes are approved by Lansing, leaders from Wayne, Washtenaw, and Oakland County as well as the city of Detroit will work with the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to conduct a public engagement process and attempt to negotiate a three-county partnership as a first step in expanded regional transportation. Under the MPA, Macomb County could join later should their transit needs grow from their current full county SMART structure.
“Washtenaw County remains committed to working with our partners in Wayne and Oakland counties to develop a regional transportation system that works for our residents,” said Jason Morgan, Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. “Regional transportation is critical to ensuring inclusive economic growth for Southeast Michigan and we are ready and willing to move forward with developing a three-county transit solution. The MPA gives us that opportunity to take that next step, together.”
Evans says he believes all four local leaders and the RTA will come together on the right plan for the region. “It has to be the right plan for all three counties and Detroit,” said Evans. “We are all mindful of working across the table to negotiate an agreement that meets the works for all of us.”
HB 5229 is sponsored by Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance) and is currently pending before the House Committee on Transportation. Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who was not in attendance, supports the other regional partners moving forward.
“We support the efforts of our regional partners exploring better connected regional transit options,” said Hackel. “As the only county in the region with a countywide service area, we look forward to future opportunities to better connect our region.”
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY
November 18, 2019
Announcement Regarding a Regional Initiative
**WHAT: **Regional leaders and representatives from the Michigan Legislature will discuss legislation that will affect a new regional initiative for Southeast Michigan.
WHERE: Beaumont, Royal Oak
Heart Center Conference Room
3601 West 13 Mile Rd.
Royal Oak, MI 48073
Free parking is available in the South Deck. Please enter the building through the South Entrance.
WHEN: 10:00 AM Monday, November 18, 2018
**WHO: **Warren C. Evans, Wayne County Executive
David Coulter, Oakland County Executive
Mike Duggan, Detroit Mayor
Jason Morgan, Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners Chair
State Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance)
Carolyn Wilson, Beaumont Health COO
Alisha Bell, Wayne County Board of Commissioners Chair
Scott Benson, Detroit City Council Member
David Woodward, Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chair
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2019
MOODY'S UPGRADES WAYNE COUNTY, MI TO Baa1; OUTLOOK STABLE
DETROIT –Wayne County’s credit rating has been upgraded by Moody’s Investment Services to Baa1 from Baa2. The ratings agency determined the County’s financial outlook is stable.
Moody’s cites Wayne County’s “progress towards strengthening its operational and financial performance, aided by past restructuring of its departments and retiree benefits” as reasons for the upgrade. Additionally, the ratings agency said Wayne County is better positioned to respond to economic downturn, and to absorb growing costs.
“The upgrade and positive outlook reflects the administration’s sustained commitment to a culture of fiscal stability while improving operations,” said Deputy Wayne County Executive Richard Kaufman. “Our finances are stable and we are better prepared to weather future economic downturns. We are focused on maintaining that progress. Doing so will help us address our remaining challenges as we continue to take steps to bolster our pension funding.”
Moody’s also identified potential long-term challenges facing Wayne County including a “somewhat fragile” recovering tax base and economy as well as pockets of high poverty and unemployment.
“Wayne County’s recovery has created a foundation for growth, but even Wall Street recognizes that sustainable growth must be broad-based,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “Expanding our tax base and developing a more diversified economy are important. However, it’s equally critical that we address poverty and aggressively pursue policies, such as regional transit, that create opportunities for residents.”
Since taking office in 2015, the Evans Administration has eliminated a $52 million structural and an $82 million accumulated budget deficit, delivered four consecutive budget surpluses, and increased Wayne County’s pension funding from 45% to 61%.
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans today announced he will veto an amendment by County Commission to his proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which would increase the stipend paid to Medicare eligible retirees by $15 per month per person. This amendment will result in increasing the County’s unfunded OPEB liability by an estimated $5.6 million. The County Commission approved the County’s budget which included the amendment by a vote of 13-2
DETROIT - Today, Wayne County took another step toward breaking ground on a new criminal justice center as it closed on its bond sale, which will raise $315 million toward the criminal project on East Warren Avenue. Work on the criminal justice center is expected to begin in October as Rock Ventures’ demolition of the unfinished Gratiot jail continues.
DETROIT - On Wednesday, Wayne County priced bonds through the Michigan Finance Authority, raising $315 million for a portion of the County’s $380 million contribution toward the new criminal justice center project on East Warren Avenue. The tax-exempt fixed rate bonds mature over 30 years with an interest rate of 3.91%.
DETROIT – A federal judge has denied a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that sought to prevent the sale and issuance of bonds to finance Wayne County’s $533 million criminal justice center project. Judge Bernard A. Friedman, issued the order on July 25th after hearing oral arguments, clearing the way for Wayne County to issue bonds to finance the project.
CHICAGO (S&P Global Ratings) June 1, 2018--S&P Global Ratings raised its ratings two notches to 'BBB+' from 'BBB-' on debt issued by and on behalf of Wayne Charter County (Wayne County), Mich., reflecting the county's limited-tax general obligation (GO) pledge. The outlook remains positive. "The two-notch upgrade reflects our view of the county's continued maintenance of structurally balanced operations, and that it is well positioned to be able to maintain structural balance even as operating and fixed costs are set to grow in the near term," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst John Sauter. "We attribute the return to structural balance to substantial cost-cutting measures, mostly stemming from the recent consent agreement and recovery plan, but also to improved fiscal and operational management," said Mr. Sauter. Reductions to health care (current and postemployment) and pensions, combined with increased support from the delinquent tax revolving fund, led to a series of general fund surpluses and helped the county build up its reserves and begin improving its pension funded position. As anticipated, however, expenditure growth is picking up quickly (including new costs coming into the budget) while revenues remain constrained. We feel the county is now moving into a more normal operating environment.
DETROIT – Wayne County’s General Obligation bonds are now considered “investment grade” by Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings. The ratings agency upgraded the bonds to BBB- as part of an overall reassessment of ratings following S&P’s revision of its methodology.
DETROIT – For the second straight year, Wayne County is projecting a general fund operating budget surplus of approximately $44 million for the fiscal year 2015-16 based on preliminary numbers from the Department of Management and Budget.
DETROIT – For the first time in eight years, Wayne County’s fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015, had an available General Fund surplus of $5.7 million. This surplus was confirmed for the 2014-2015 fiscal year by the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) submitted to the State of Michigan. This surplus was the direct result of actions taken by Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans’ Administration.
DETROIT – Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans’ financial turnaround for Wayne County received another boost after an Actuarial Valuation shows the County’s pension fund is now 54 percent funded. Up from 44 percent just two years ago, this increase is the result of benefit modifications achieved through Executive Evans’ Recovery Plan, which reduced accrued liabilities by $120 million as well as eliminating the Inflation Equity Fund and transferring those assets to the pension system.
DETROIT– As part of the comprehensive “Recovery Plan” to stabilize Wayne County finances and eliminate deficits, County Executive Warren C. Evans’ administration dramatically reduced its total retiree health care liability by 64% from $1.325 billion in 2014 to just $471 million in 2015. Retiree health care liabilities were expected to spike in 2015 to $1.8 billion, if no remedial measures were taken.
DETROIT—Moody’s Investor Services’ general obligation limited tax (GOLT) debt outlook for Wayne County is now stable according to a Credit Opinion issued February 19, 2016, reversing a previously negative rating.
DETROIT – Today, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans announced he has received formal notification from State of Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri approving the County’s request to be released from the Consent Agreement. This exit from the Consent Agreement comes about 14 months after the County entered into its agreement with the State. After reviewing the County’s progress, Khouri determined the County complied with terms of the agreement by eliminating its structural deficit and restoring its overall financial stability.
DETROIT – Today Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans submitted to the Wayne County Commission his proposed two-year Comprehensive Executive Budget; a balanced plan that builds on the progress of last fiscal year and strengthens the foundation for the County’s longterm fiscal stability. The proposed budget covers FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18 and each budget totals $1.5 billion.
DETROIT—Fitch Ratings, Inc upgraded Wayne County’s Bond Rating from “B” to “BB+”. This is a four notch upgrade which is quite uncommon. This upgrade is a reflection of the progress Wayne County has made toward eliminating its financial distress by implementing the Recovery Plan that realigns expenditures and long-term liabilities to match revenue. The improved rating is expected to make it possible for the County to borrow the money necessary to complete work at the Gratiot Jail Site and at a lower interest rate
DETROIT – Today, Wayne County announced that the architect of its financial turnaround and Recovery Plan, Chief Restructuring and Financial Officer Tony Saunders, will resign from his County position in order to launch a turnaround and private equity firm. Saunders will remain in his current role with the County as it seeks his replacement.
DETROIT – Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans today announced the selection of Henry M. Dachowitz as the County’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Dachowitz brings over 40 years of experience as a finance professional to the position, including four years as Treasurer of Nassau County, New York, where he led a nationally-recognized financial turnaround.
DETROIT – Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans today announced a tentative agreement with Rock Ventures to build a new $533 million criminal justice center, providing the County with four state-of-the-art buildings as a solution to its long-stalled Gratiot jail project. As part of the deal, the County would invest $380 million with Rock covering the remaining costs and any overruns.
DETROIT – Today, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans asked the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan for feedback on a new draft transit plan and to consider placing it on the November ballot for voter approval.
DETROIT—Wayne County’s Bond Rating has improved from “BB+” to “BBB-” according to Fitch Ratings, Inc. This upgrade, just one year after Fitch upgraded Wayne County’s credit rating four notches, means Wayne County bonds are now rated as investment grade. The improved rating could lower the cost to borrow the money necessary to complete the jail project and other necessary long-term projects.
DETROIT – For the third-straight year, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans submitted a balanced budget to the Wayne County Commission. The proposed fiscal year 2017-18 budget totals $1.459 billion, compared to the 2016-17 county budget of $1.494 billion. Building on the success of his administration’s two previous budgets, Evans budget includes a planned surplus of $4.23 million.
DETROIT – Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans today provided an update on the status of the two proposals to address the County’s unfinished jail project. On June 28th, the County received proposals from Walsh Construction to finish building the jail on the Gratiot site and from Rock Ventures to build the County a new criminal justice center on an alternative site.
DETROIT – Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans today announced a tentative agreement with the City of Detroit and Mayor Mike Duggan for the acquisition of land needed to proceed with Rock Ventures’ proposal to build a new criminal justice complex. Under the agreement, the County would acquire part of the DDOT property bounded by the I-75 Service Drive and E. Warren Ave. In exchange, the City would acquire the former American Motors Corp. (AMC) headquarters on Detroit’s Westside, which is currently owned by the County.
DETROIT – Today, Wayne County announced that it does not intend to complete the unfinished jail at Gratiot as Wayne County and Rock Ventures move closer to reaching agreement on a deal that would result in a new criminal justice center near I-75 and Warren Ave. Negotiations continue, and tentatively include having Rock Ventures pay a previously approved $500,000 stipend to Walsh Construction for submitting a response to the Request for Proposals (RFP) to finish the partially constructed jail.
DETROIT — Today, based on the recommendation of Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans and Corporation Counsel, the Wayne County Commission approved a settlement with AECOM and Ghafari, the original design engineers/architects for the Gratiot Jail site. The agreement provides Wayne County with a $2.5 million payment from AECOM and Ghafari, dismissal of all counter-claims against the County and the Building Authority and undisputed ownership of all design documents including documents outlining a new design for a Gratiot jail. These documents are essential for the County to move forward with completing the jail.
DETROIT – This morning Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans submitted to the Wayne County Commission a $1.54 Billion Comprehensive Executive Budget for FY 2015-16 which covers the period of October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016, and a projected budget for the FY 2016-17.