After Serious Negotiations It Is Back To The Drawing Board On Transportation Funding

Legislators spent the majority of the week once again trying to find a way to invest more money in Michigan’s roads. Talks began with the most serious negotiations of the summer and at one point there was some belief that a deal was close. At the end of the day though a final compromise was unable to be reached and the Governor and legislative leaders are back to the drawing board.

The potential deal was a plan based around increasing road funding by $1.2 billion, with $600 million coming from new revenue and $600 coming from existing revenue. The new revenue would come from a combination of gas taxes and registration fee increases. The $600 million in cuts to existing revenue remained undefined and was one of the major sticking points with many legislators.

Talks have already begun on finding a way to solve this problem but further action will not take place until after Labor Day at the earliest. The League has continued to voice our concerns over the use of a significant amount of unidentified existing revenue, the need to invest in transit, and that any solution should not put an unnecessary amount of new reporting requirements on our members

The League will be working hard to ensure our voice is heard as we move closer to a deal. We will continue to update you on any new details and how you can engage members of the Legislature in the coming weeks.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Save the Date: Transportation Asset Management Conference

The Transportation Asset Management Council will we holding there Fall Conference on October 15, in Marquette. The theme of this years conference will be investing in our future with data driven solutions.

For more information, contact Frank Kelley, Asset Management Coordinator at 517-373-2111 or kelleyf@michigan.gov, or visit us on the Web at: www.michigan.gov/tamc.

To register, contact the Michigan Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) at the Center for Technology & Training at 906-487-2102 or ctt@mtu.edu.

For a copy of the Save the Date flyer please click on the following link. 2015 FALL TAMC Save the Date

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Recent Attorney General Opinion Potentially Limits Building Official Options

In many communities around the state it has been common practice for years to have either privatized some function of the building department or shared those duties with neighboring municipalities. Last month, the Attorney General released an opinion stating the building official must be directly employed by a municipality so as to keep the policing powers within the local unit of government (opinion here: http://www.ag.state.mi.us/opinion/datafiles/2010s/op10364.htm).  After a meeting with the Attorney General’s office, it is clear their interpretation of the law is building inspectors can be employed by a third party but the building official themselves must be directly employed by the municipality and not by contract or arrangement with a third party or other unit of government.

This calls into question not only third party contracts but also arrangements between municipalities where the building official is not the direct employee of each entity. In many situations the building official is shared amongst multiple jurisdictions but employed by only 1 of those municipalities.

We are heavily involved in this issue and have requested the following feedback from each community to provide as much data as possible as we look for possible solutions to this problem:

  1. How is your building official employed (through the community directly, through a third party, through an authority, shared with a neighboring municipality)?
  2. If through an authority, what is the name of that authority and who operates the authority?
  3. If through a third party, which company?
  4. If shared among municipalities, with whom and which municipality employs that building official?

If your community is negatively impacted by this opinion, I would encourage you to reach out to your legislator and convey to them the impact this would have on your building department operations and the potential to increase costs in your budget.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback on this issue.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate with the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Congress Passes Another Transportation Extension Hours Before Deadline

Despite the Senate working many days to iron out various amendments before passing a six year transportation authorization bill (three years of which were funded under the plan), in the end, local communities are handed another short term extension. The House essentially refused to consider a long term bill and argued that there was not enough time to negotiate differences. Part of this included a non-transportation issue: the Export-Import bank reauthorization which the Senate supported and attached to the transportation bill. So the House sent the Senate a short term extension, funding transportation through October 29th, 2015. This means the debate will begin again within a few weeks. One very positive note in this effort is that both Senators Peters and Stabenow signed on to the Wicker-Booker amendment, which would have sent more money directly to locals. We’re hopeful the significant support that was displayed on that amendment will translate into inclusion during the next round of bill drafting. And we are thankful to our Senators for their support of local governments!

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Senate Nears Passage of Long Term Federal Highway Bill

The United States Senate worked through the weekend on the six year authorization bill that would be the longest federal transportation bill the nation has seen in decades. But as it nears completion by the upper chamber, the House leadership has stated that they will not take up the Senate bill, and are encouraging the Senate to instead, take up the House passed extension. The House sent over a temporary extension this month which funds federal highway programs through December 18th. The current authorization expired this Friday, July 31st.

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Expand your Convention Experience with FREE Workshops!

TC-bayfront-300x225Anyone who likes a value-added proposition will love this year’s Convention workshops! Convention attendees who arrive in beautiful Traverse City on the morning of Wed., Sept. 16 will have a chance to join a special workshop at no extra charge!

We have selected three topics that speak to current issues facing many of our member communities. You can choose from:

  • Placemaking Strategies for your Community – Join experts from Michigan State University and MSHDA to learn more about how placemaking strategies can be implemented on the ground right in your community.
  • Suburban Strategies for Success – Learn about mutually beneficial regional collaborations, and get the low down on successful suburban retrofit projects.
  • Waves of Waterfront Concepts - Hear about Traverse City waterfront projects that are engaging the whole community, and unique waterfront design efforts across the state.

Space for these FREE Convention Workshops is limited, so sign up early!

Invite a Community Leader to Convention for FREE!

CommunityChangers-300x158Every community has its champions – people with a strong belief in their community’s assets and a passion to create a bright future. Who are those people in your city? Is it a long-established business owner or a budding entrepreneur? Perhaps it’s an active member of a local charity or foundation. Or maybe it’s the head honcho of an economic development agency. Whatever their primary role in life, they are an important part of the team that makes your community great.

So, invite them to join you at Convention this year! Let them soak in the knowledge that will further your community-building efforts together. To make it easier for you to bring along other community leaders – economic development professionals and business and civic leaders – we’re offering a special deal. For every paid member registration, you may register one community leader FREE*. Once your registration is complete, an invitation email will be sent to you with all the details.

Register yourself and a community leader today. You’ll be glad you did!


 

*This offer cannot be applied to officials, employees, or contractual employees of the municipality.

As Federal Transportation Funding Nears Expiration, House and Senate Take Different Paths

The good news is that there has been action on transportation funding in both the House and the Senate this week in DC. The bad news is that they are taking different paths with respect to how to solve the problem with just two weeks remaining before the existing funds expire on July 31st. This week the House passed an $8 Billion extension which would fund federal transportation projects through the end of the year. However, Senate leaders are still working and have stated they intend to produce a six year bill yet next week. That does not leave much time for the two sides to negotiate differences. In addition, the re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank is being thrown into the transportation debate and could complicate the passage of the bill this month.

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at sminnick@mml.org or 517-908-0301.

League Highlights Potential Negative Impact of Using General Fund Revenue for Roads

Although the Legislature made little progress this week in finding a solution to fix Michigan’s infrastructure needs, the League was very active in expressing our opposition to significant cuts to the General Fund.

On Monday we delivered a letter signed by the League and eight other organizations (Michigan Fraternal Order of Police, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Association of Police Organizations, Michigan League for Public Policy, Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union, Michigan Townships Association, Police Officers Association of Michigan and Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan) to all 110 members of the House expressing our serious concerns with using existing General Fund resources to improve Michigan’s infrastructure. A copy of the letter can be found at the following link. Final GF Concern Letter to Legislators

In addition to the letter the League requested much respected non-partisan former House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean to look at the implications of SB 414.

Key findings in Bean’s report:

  • The state’s General Fund has declined 1.8 percent since FY 2001, and adjusted for inflation has declined 23 percent. No state in the nation has cut its budget more than Michigan over that period.
  • The state already faces revenue pressure from several tax changes scheduled to take effect in FY 2017-18, when SB 414 would take full effect.
  • Additional general fund spending pressures are also expected, given federal policy changes that will require more state support for basic human services.
  • If SB 414, as passed by the Senate becomes law, the likely impact on the FY 2017-18 General Fund (GF/GP) budget would be $450 million to $550 million in GF/GP budget cuts.
  • The state would have to cut between 11 percent and 13 percent from each department line item if they were able to reduce health and human services, and corrections spending, the two largest items in the GF budget, by a combined $100 million.

The report and a memo from the League was provided to every Legislator, the Governor, and the Capital Press Core. A copy of the memo and report can be found at the following link. Report for Legislators

The League will continue to work hard to ensure our voice is heard on the potential long-term negative impacts this proposal could have on our communities. We will continue to update you on the advancement of this proposal and how you can engage members of the Legislature in the coming weeks.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

Transportation Asset Management Council Policy for Collection on Roadway Condition Data on (Paved) Non-Federal Aid Eligible Roads and Streets

Since 2009, the Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) has been working with local road agencies to collect PASER data on the paved non-federal aid system. In 2009, the TAMC began a policy to annually budget to reimburse agencies for data collection of PASER data on up to one third of the State’s paved non-federal aid road system. Many local road agencies have taken part in this reimbursement program to the extent funds allowed. The TAMC is also aware of many local road agencies that periodically collect PASER data on the paved non-federal aid system without reimbursement from the TAMC.

The TAMC would like to request submission of paved non-federal aid PASER data that agencies may have collected for their own purposes. If a local road agency is currently collecting paved non-federal aid PASER data without TAMC reimbursement; the TAMC would like to kindly request submission of that data annually. Your submission of paved non-federal aid data, with or without reimbursement, allows the TAMC to have a better indication as to the status of the State’s paved non-federal aid road system. Data submitted before December 15th of each year can be included in the TAMC Annual Report.

For more information please click the following link. TAMC – Paved Non-Federal Aid

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.