Worthy making case for more money for her department to Wayne County Commission

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Wayne County prosecutor Kim Worthy was quick to choose a chair at the committee table that put her back to television cameras present to cover her appearance.

She came to take questions, but also to reiterate her position - her prosecutors' office needs more money ... millions more than what the commission had budgeted for it.

She talked about how responsible she is a steward of taxpayer dollars, that among her first things to do was to audit spending.

"We set salaries to what people should have had, and downgraded others," Worthy said, talking about her administration in 2004.

The next fiscal year, millions less were available ... and, she claims, every year "we found a way to save money and work within our budget."

Volunteers worked well for years to lighten the work load, but it wasn't enough. She negotiated in '07 and '08
with the lawyers union, got contract lawyer salaries down to $46,000 - lower than any other assistant prosecutors in the state.

In short, her history lesson for the committee appeared to be an attempt to show that, as a manager, she and her staff have been doing a good job under difficult circumstances. 

"The managers in my office have a mandate to do more with less," Worthy says. "Long term planning is important, but we cant do that when we don't know what tools we have to do the job."

She then referred to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, saying "Nine months we worked with the CEO's office. $33,4- $33,7-$34, (million) was the 3 year negotiated annual budgets."

But, she says without warning, "There was never a phone call to say Kim, we don't have the money we promised"

Worthy's promised money was cut about $9 million per year.

Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman said "the cut from the promised 34 million to 25 million was absurd."

In responding to Worthy's arguments, Wayne County Commissioner Raymond Basham said he was "bothered by the $161 million deficit in the county."

Worthy responded, "I don't like the fact that the CEO of this county didn't keep his word. He left the impression he can't be trusted. My beef has not been with you."

However, Basham later admonished Worthy, suggesting that he was "disappointed" to know that she turned down an offer to "find the prosecutors office about $4 million." He said that Worthy turned it down, saying she wanted to whole $9 million she expected or she would sue.

Worthy said she remembers "heated exchanges regarding the fund shortage," but said the need for all of what was promised was great.

During the meeting Commissioner Kevin McNamara also alluded to Worthy's lawsuit, saying, "My problem is I have a hard time negotiating with someone who is suing me. Would you consider dropping the lawsuit and negotiate with us.?"

In a long winded answer, again going over past discussion history, Worthy answered " there were unacceptable conditions involved in past negotiations."

McNamara left the room after five minutes, headed for a previously scheduled appointment, but agreed "I never got an answer to the question."

In wrapping up the meeting, Commissioner IIona Varga concluded, "with the backup of cases and prisoners not being processed on the Sheriffs side, your not having the money you need means we'll see more spending, so we're not really saving money."

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