Wayne County commissioners in Detroit approved a $2.1-billion budget despite complaints that they shortchanged public safety, reports the Detroit Free Press. The prosecutor, the sheriff, and officials who run the county’s juvenile justice programs all say they cannot perform their functions with the current budget. “We will be suing,” Prosecutor Kym Worthy said “We’ll be going to court to seek a temporary restraining order. I’d have to lay off 49 percent of my lawyer staff. I’m not going to play games with people’s lives.”
June West, spokeswoman for the county executive, said public safety remains the county’s highest priority, but property tax collections have declined by more than $100 million in recent years. “Everyone is making cuts,” West said. “We certainly wish it were different. We’d like to fund the prosecutor at a higher level, but these are tough times.” Sheriff Benny Napoleon has complained that his office has been chronically underfunded. Last year, commissioners budgeted about $80 million for the sheriff, but he spent about $105 million, mostly running the county’s three jails. This year’s budget is $85 million, but Napoleon said living within it would require freeing hundreds of prisoners. The organizations that operate the juvenile justice programs are to get $47 million this year, down from $63 million last year.