Ficano's fleet of drivers costs Wayne County taxpayers more than $160,000

DETROIT (WXYZ) - While Wayne County officials continue to issue pink slips, CEO Robert Ficano is looking to expand his fleet of chauffeurs from two to three.

"We've been making dramatic changes to get our fiscal house in order," Ficano said at his 2013 State of the County address.

His fiscal house must come with a pretty big garage: it has to fit two drivers who also double as his security guards. Today, two county contractors squire Ficano around in his county-leased Cadillac.  One of them charges $84,281 for his work, and the other comes in at $56,930. 

This week,  just days after the county announced 26 layoffs in the prosecutor's office, Ficano will be asking for reinforcements: a third driver to fill-in a couple times a month when the other two aren't available.  For driving and protecting the boss, he'll be paid $7,624.

Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox says Ficano's fleet shows that he and his team are tone deaf, spending a small fortune on drivers when county services are being slashed.

'It's really unclear to me, and obviously very unclear to the taxpayers, why Bob Ficano needs three drivers, and why are we spending so much money on driving when we have a $160 million budget deficit?"

In Macomb County, Executive Mark Hackel's office says he's never had a driver nor a security staff. Over in Oakland, L. Brooks Patterson says he relies on the county's claims investigators as his drivers, but only when he needs them. 

This Thursday, Wayne County Commissioners will decide on whether or not to fund Ficano's third driver.

"Old habits are hard to break, and that's pretty evident even with the Ficano administration," Cox said.

Wayne County officials point out that other elected officials, like Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, are driven around by security staff. Ficano's office says that, since 2008, the CEO has shed about 30% of his appointees.

Contact the 7 Action News Investigators at tips@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466

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