PPT Equipment Exemption Deadline Moving

Senate Bill 359 was recently introduced in the Michigan Senate, proposing to extend the late February deadline for eligible manufacturing equipment to file for an exemption from personal property tax assessment.

The sponsor introduced this bill in an attempt to address a situation where a business within his district encountered postal issues mailing the requisite form to the local unit.  The hard deadline within the act does not allow for any exceptions, necessitating an amendment to the act to provide an extension of the deadline.  As reported from committee, SB 359 would mimic the extension that occurred in 2016, allowing businesses with eligible manufacturing personal property to file for the exemption on that property by May 31st of this year.

With Senate floor action expected this week, House action would be needed next week for the bill to get to the Governor and allow any time for businesses to actually file under this extension.  Such a narrow window will hopefully result in very few new filings and little disruption at the local level.

Treasury also testified that this extension will likely require the October local unit PPT reimbursement checks be delayed until November, similar to what took place last year. A separate bill is being introduced this week and will likely be voted on next week in Senate committee for this purpose.  The bill sponsor did commit, in his committee testimony, to work with MML and Treasury on a mechanism that could be added to the act to allow for local corrections to filing issues or mailing delays so that there will no longer be a need to amend the law for the whole state to address a correction in one community.  This discussion will likely occur later this spring, with legislation to follow.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

NLC Gears Up for Infrastructure Week 2017

Now in its fifth year, the National League of Cities (NLC) is once again participating in Infrastructure Week, May 15-19. Infrastructure Week is a national week of education and advocacy that brings together American businesses, workers, elected leaders, and everyday citizens around one message: It’s #TimeToBuild.

NLC will host several events during Infrastructure Week highlighting the need for Congress to directly invest in local infrastructure, including:

  • An infrastructure advocacy action. As NLC leaders and our allies converge on Capitol Hill, join us from home to tell Congress to invest in cities.
  • An event discussing resilient water management on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:00pm EDT. This event is hosted by NLC, the Value of Water Campaign, and World Resources Institute.
  • A panel discussion on the importance of local infrastructure investments at the National City-County Leadership Center on Wednesday, May 17 at 10:00am EDT. This event is hosted by NLC, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the US Conference of Mayors.
  • An event highlighting outstanding examples of infrastructure projects nationwide on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 17 at 2:00pm EDT. This event is hosted by the Big 7 state and local government associations.
  • An event discussing the importance of broadband in building smart communities at the National City-County Leadership Center on Thursday, May 18 at 2:00pm EDT. This event is hosted by NLC, NACo, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
  • A panel discussion on the current landscape of autonomous vehicle research and technology development at the National City-County Leadership Center on Friday, May 19 at 10:00am EDT. This event is hosted by NLC and the National Association of Regional Councils.

Visit www.nlc.org/InfrastructureWeek for more information on NLC’s activities or email your questions to advocacy@nlc.org.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

2019 Federal Local Safety Program Solicits Applications

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of new applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 general Local (HSIP) Safety Program. The FY 2019 federal budget for this program is estimated at $9,000,000. This amount may be subject to revisions. Unselected FY 2019 High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) projects will automatically be included in this Call.

Local Agencies may submit more than one project application for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency, HSIP, and HRRR combined, for the fiscal year. Selected projects are to be obligated in FY 2019.

Application are to be electronically submitted or postmarked by Monday, August 7, 2017. Please click here for additional information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pamela Blazo, Local Agency Programs Safety Engineer, at 517-335-2224 or at blazop@michigan.gov.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

2019 Federal High Risk Rural Road Program Call for Application

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) program. Federal funds for the HRRR program are apportioned from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and derived from the HRRR Special Rule under 23 USC 148(g)(l), The FY 2019 federal appropriation for this program is estimated to be $6,000,000. This amount may be subject to revisions.

Local agencies are allowed to submit more than one project for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency for the fiscal year, including any select FY 2019 HSIP projects. Any non-selected projects submitted under this HRRR call for projects will automatically rolled over to the general FY 2019 HSIP safety call for projects. Selected HRRR projects are to be obligated in FY 2019; the Local Agency will not be allowed to delay a selected HRRR to a different year.

Applications are to be electronically submitted or postmarked by Monday, August 7, 2017. Please click here for additional information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pamela Blazo, Local Agency Programs Safety Engineer, at 517-335-2224 or at blazop@michigan.gov.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council Releases Annual Road and Bridge Report

This week the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council released their annual road and bridge report. The report summarizes road and bridge conditions and provides condition projections into the future. The report also provides a synopsis of TAMC program activities and events over the past year.

During 2016, the TAMC rated the pavement condition of the paved federal-aid eligible
roads for the twelfth consecutive year. This data collection included 57,961 lane miles of paved roads in Michigan, including State Freeways and Highways, City Major Streets and County Primary Roads. This effort was achieved through a cooperative effort of individuals from county road commissions, city and village engineering staffs, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), regional planning agencies, and metropolitan planning organizations. In addition, the TAMC also collected pavement conditions on some of Michigan’s paved non-federal aid eligible roads as well.

In terms of physical condition, the report reveals further deterioration of Michigan’s
federal aid eligible roads from the previous year with more miles being rated as “poor.” The 2016 condition data indicates 18% of these roads are in good condition, 43% are in fair condition, and 39% are in poor condition; in 2015, the breakdown was 17% good, 45% fair, and 38% poor.

The 2016 report was approved by the TAMC on April 26, and can be viewed at this link: http://tamc.mcgi.state.mi.us/TAMC/#/aboutus Once there, scroll down to “Annual Reports” to find the 2016 Report as well as other past reports.  There is also a Mini Version of the 2016 Report, which contains the Executive Summary, charts and forecasts of road and bridge conditions.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Congress Reaches Short Term Budget Deal, Administration Proposes Tax Overhaul

Congress has reached a short-term budget deal that adheres to existing overall spending levels and, for the most part, preserves funding for city priorities. Due to the advocacy efforts of the League, NLC and many other stakeholders, Congress did not adopt any of the mid-year cuts that had been proposed by the Trump Administration. This ensures cities will not face unanticipated shortfalls or systematic clawbacks of spent-out FY17 federal funds.

Key programs the budget deal maintains funding for are CDBG and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Specific program outcomes are presented below and indicates whether funding was Decreased, Preserved, or Increased.

Transportation

  • TIGER: Preserved
  • Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grants: Increased
  • Essential Air Services: Preserved

Housing

  • CDBG: Preserved
  • Homeless Assistance: Preserved
  • Housing Assistance Vouchers: Preserved

Labor / Education / Health

  • AmeriCorps (Corporation for National Community Service): Preserved
  • IMLS (Library Services): Increased
  • Job Corps: Preserved
  • LIHEAP (Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program): Preserved
  • SSBG (Social Services Block Grant): Preserved
  • CCDBG (Child Care Development Block Grant): Increased
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Increased
  • State Response to the Opioid Abuse services: Increased to $500 million

Interior-EPA

  • Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs: Preserved
  • Brownfields: Preserved
  • Superfund: Preserved
  • WIFIA: Preserved
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Preserved

Energy-Water

  • Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Increased

Commerce

  • Economic Development Administration Funding: Increased
  • U.S. Census: Increased

Justice / Homeland

  • New funding for countering heroin and opioid epidemic: Increased to $103 million
  • State Local Law Enforcement Grants: Decreased $128 million to $2.08 billion
    •  Byrne JAG: Decreased by $150 million to $1.26 billion
    •  Community Oriented Policing (COPS): Increased
    • Juvenile Justice: Decreased by $23 million to $247 million
    • Violence Against Women Act: Increased
  • State and Local Homeland Security grants: Preserved
    • Urban Area Security Initiative: Increased
    • Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis: Decreased by $10 million to $178 million
    •  Predisaster Mitigation Fund: Preserved
    • Assistance to Fire Fighters and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants: Increased
  • Sanctuary Cities: No change to current law

Agriculture

  • Rural Water and waste Water: Preserved
  • Rural Housing: Increased

Additionally, the Trump Administration released their framework for tax reform. In a call with NLC staff late last week, the outline provided for the Administration’s tax overhaul proposal appears to eliminate all state and local income tax deductions, only preserving the charitable and mortgage exemptions.  What was not included in the proposal was any mention of eliminating the tax-free status of municipal bonds.  NLC staff view this omission as a big victory and their contacts in the White House have indicated that municipal bond tax status will not be addressed within a tax reform conversation.  Instead, this issue will be included in the infrastructure spending plan that will likely be a September conversation for the Administration.

The League will continue to work with NLC to show our support for local government priorities in the areas of tax reform, infrastructure and the federal budget.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Michigan Chapter APWA Great Lakes Expo May 23-25 at Grand Traverse Resort

The Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) will be hosting its annual Great Lakes Expo beginning Tuesday, May 23rd, with educational sessions continuing on May 24th and 25th. The Expo will offer three session tracts for those in Public Works: Management, Operations and Fleet Maintenance. This year’s theme, “Headliners in Public Works”, is embodied in Tim Skubick’s, WWJ Newsradio 950, keynote address in which he will dive into the realm of managing public relations. Attendees will have the opportunity to receive a Michigan Legislative Update from the League’s lobbyist and a Federal Legislative Update from Marty Williams, APWA National. Additional session topics will include:

  • Green Infrastructure Financing,
  • Trenchless Technologies for Water Main,
  • Utilizing Mobile GIS,
  • OMID Project Overview
  • Infrastructure Remaining Useful Life Planning,
  • Intelligent Public Works and Organizational Culture,
  • Workzone Safety,
  • Non-motorized Trail Crossing Design,
  • Application of “Lean” Processing in Public Works,
  • Tier 4 Emission Requirement Update,
  • Various equipment maintenance updates

To register for the Great Lakes Expo, visit http://michigan.apwa.net/, call (248) 370-0000 or e-mail tspencer@bellequip.com.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

New Legislation Seeks to Eliminate Local Control in Zoning

Last week legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate to amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. The bills eliminate a local unit of government’s ability to regulate short-term rentals. House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 329, mirror each other in language, mandating all short-term rentals are a residential use of property and a permitted use in all residential zones. The League disagrees and believes short-term rentals operated as commercial business establishments are inconsistent with residential land use. 

In many places across the state, short-term rentals are taking over once vibrant residential neighborhoods and turning them in to areas transient in nature that go dark part of the year. This is having a detrimental impact on quality of life. An overabundance of short-term rentals can potentially remove affordable homes and housing units off the market leading to decreased enrollment in neighborhood schools. If enacted, this legislation will undo regulations municipalities have put in place to negate these negative impacts and prohibit other communities from regulating in the future. 

We need your help to stop this legislation! The Michigan Realtors Association assisted in writing the bills and are aggressively pushing for quick action. They have been contacting Representatives and Senators in an attempt to say municipalities are overstepping on private property rights, prohibiting property owners from maximizing the value of their property. We know this isn’t accurate, but need you to contact your State Representative and Senator today to urge their opposition for HB 4503 and SB 329! Even if short-term rentals are not an issue in your community, you should be very concerned about the impact of preempting local zoning efforts. If enacted, this legislation would set a dangerous precedent undermining decision-making at the local level. 

Also, please contact the committee chairs where the legislation has been referred urging them to not take up the bills. HB 4503 was referred to the House Committee on Tourism & Outdoor Recreation chaired by Representative Holly Hughes. SB 329 was referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Senator Dale Zorn.

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Transportation Asset Management Conference May 25 in Mt. Pleasant

The Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) will sponsor
the 2017 Spring Asset Management Conference on Thursday, May 25, at the Mt. Pleasant
Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel and Conference Center, 2424 S. Mission Street, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The conference will once again provide a forum for state and local officials to examine the relationship between asset management and the condition of road and highway infrastructure.

With a theme of “From Policy to Practice,” the conference will focus on examples of best
practices at the national, state and local levels, and will offer attendees practical guidance on how agencies are managing transportation infrastructure using condition inventory forecasting and the incorporation of other utility data. This year’s conference will also feature panel conversations from leaders involved with the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, Michigan’s newly created Infrastructure Asset Management Pilot Advisory Board, and bridge management experts from Michigan’s leading transportation agencies.

Conference registration is being handled by the Michigan Local Technical Assistance
Program (LTAP) by phone at 906-487-2102 or e-mail at ctt@mtu.edu. Registration also can be done online by clicking here. For hotel information and reservations please click here. Seating is limited so early registration is encouraged.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Proposed Ambulance Service Tax Raising Concerns Among Municipalities

A proposal adopted in early 2015 to draw down additional federal Medicaid match revenue to support increased ambulance reimbursements is proving to be a bigger challenge to implement than originally believed and is bringing out potential unintended consequences that could be devastating to communities with publicly-operated ambulance services.

House Bill 4447 became Public Act 104 in July of 2015.  This legislation, among numerous other things, provided the Department of Health and Human Services with authority to develop a Quality Assurance Assessment Program (QAAP) on ambulance services as a financing mechanism to draw down additional Medicaid match from the federal government.  This same financing scheme has been used within other health care industries as a way to improve reimbursement rates for providers without straining the state’s budget.

As originally proposed, this mechanism would have imposed a state tax on ambulance run revenues that the state would have used to improve reimbursement rates for Medicaid-eligible ambulance runs.  In gathering the data and developing the formula needed to arrive at an appropriate tax rate, however, the Department interpreted federal guidelines as requiring that ambulance service providers needed to submit all local government revenues related to providing ambulance services, not simply revenues accrued from ambulance runs.  With this interpretation in place, publicly-operated ambulance providers stand to bear a much larger burden of the proposed QAAP tax than the private ambulance providers who do not provide additional EMS or fire services.

Additionally, the complexity of dividing out costs related solely to ambulance services in communities with multiple tax revenues supporting their fire and EMS services and/or personnel serving multiple functions, including ambulance service, and applying a tax on top of those existing taxes is causing alarm bells to sound for many municipalities that operate their own ambulance services.

The League is participating in meetings with the Department, fire chiefs and other municipal fire personnel, and state legislators in an attempt to get a better understanding of the potential that this program could cause a negative financial impact on communities.  While increased Medicaid reimbursement rates are a laudable goal, they cannot come on the backs of municipalities.  Enough concerns have been raised that warrant this concept be re-evaluated before being implemented.

If your community provides municipal ambulance service, please contact our office to discuss this issue and the potential impact on your community.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.