Michigan Municipal League Staff Help Prepare Detroit City Council for Future After Bankruptcy

Detroit City Council MML Meeting

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones introduces League CEO Dan Gilmartin at a recent education session.

Michigan Municipal League staff has spent the last few weeks working with Detroit City Council members as they move forward and prepare to bring the city out of bankruptcy. League staff has led education sessions on a variety of topics, including the importance of placemaking, city finance and financial management, parliamentary procedure, legislative advocacy and other areas.

“We wanted to do this to help create a good foundation on which they can build as the city moves out of bankruptcy,” said Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. Gilmartin was the first person from the League to meet with the city council in sessions that started July 14 and expected to wrap up later this month.

Gilmartin gave an overview of what the League does for its member communities and he discussed the concept of placemaking and why it is key to the revitalization of not only Detroit but to all of Michigan. In essence, placemaking is about creating communities in which people want to live, work and play. Detroit already has many outstanding placemaking examples.

The League’s Anthony Minghine, associate executive director and COO, spoke to the council about a variety of municipal finance topics. Several hours were spent laying a foundation upon which the council can use as the bankruptcy ends and the emergency manager prepares to leave. The dialog that took place made clear that the council is preparing for a new day and setting new expectations for reporting and management of the budget. Topics covered included Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) pronouncements, fund types, allowable expenses, understanding financial statements, municipal budgeting, and long range planning considerations.

Other sessions were on lobbying 101; planning and zoning; legal framework of municipalities by the League’s General Counsel William Mathewson; and roles and responsibilities.

Kelly Warren, the League’s director of events, said the goal of the sessions were to give Detroit leaders the core lessons taught through the League’s Elected Officials Academy (EOA) program. Go here for more information about this EOA program.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org.

Temporary Fix for Federal Transportation Crisis Passes House

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a temporary spending bill that would fund the Highway Trust Fund and extend MAP-21 until May 2015. The bill, HR 5021, would inject $10.9 Billion into the fund, which was projected to run out of money within weeks. The House’s proposal gets the funding from “pension smoothing,” customs user fees, and an account which was set to be used for leaking underground storage tanks.The bill now heads to the Senate for passage. There are positive indications that the Senate will support the measure, as there are only two weeks left until Congress leaves for their August recess.

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

Governor Signs Redevelopment Liquor License Legislation

Governor Snyder has signed SB 846 (Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R – Lowell), a bill that amends the Michigan liquor control code dealing with redevelopment liquor licenses and is identical to HB 4257 (Rep. Cindy Denby, R – Fowlerville) that passed the House late last year. It is now PA 270 of 2014.  

According to a recent determination by the Liquor Control Commission, only businesses in cities are eligible for redevelopment liquor licenses. This determination is counter to the last six years, where the Liquor Control Commission has allowed the redevelopment licenses in redevelopment districts to be for cities, villages, or townships. This bill is an attempt to rectify this issue and clarifies eligibility for the redevelopment liquor licenses in the development districts to cities, villages, and townships. We have heard from multiple villages worried about this because their redevelopment efforts are coming to a halt without being eligible for these redevelopment licenses.

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

Senate Committee Passes Medical Marijuana Legislation

This afternoon the Senate Government Operations committee passed House Bill 4271, a bill that would allow local units of government to regulate (or ban) provisioning centers (i.e. dispensaries), and HB 5104, a bill to allow for medical marijuana infused products.  There has been some discussion on HB 4271 regarding removing the local control aspect of it but that remained intact as it passed committee today.

Majority Leader Richardville (chair of the committee) stated there is still work to be done on the legislation before a vote on the Senate floor takes place but he wanted to send the message the Senate is interested in moving the process forward.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

What is Proposal 1 on Michigan’s Aug. 5, 2014 ballot?

Personal Property Tax Reform

Reporter Tim Skubick interviews Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly about the effort to reform Michigan’s personal property tax

In just over two weeks voters will decide the fate of Proposal 1 that, if approved, would complete the reform effort to Michigan’s personal property tax.

Many Michigan communities are getting questions from their residents about Proposal 1 that appears on the Aug. 5, 2014, statewide primary ballot. It is the only statewide ballot question going before voters in August. The Michigan Municipal League is supporting Proposal 1 and encouraging our members to pass resolutions in support (view the communities that have passed the resolutions here).

Although many communities have passed resolutions in support others are more interested in providing information to their residents that takes a neutral position. Below is an example of an information-based statement that Michigan communities can share with their residents. (A special thanks goes out to Farmington Hills City Manager Steve Brock, a member of the League Board of Trustees, for putting this together for his community – we’ve broadened his statement a bit to make it applicable to any community.)

Facts of Proposal 1 Aug. 5, 2014, ballot question (to make it more applicable to your community fill in the portions in italics:

  • It is NOT a tax increase for any individual
  • It eliminates the current Personal Property Tax liability for businesses that own equipment, machines and furnishings
  • It replaces 100 percent of this revenue ($X.X million for YOUR COMMUNITY’s NAME) with expiring state tax credits, a small tax on certain manufacturing concerns and part of the use tax paid by out-of-state suppliers
  • There is no formally organized opposition to this proposal
  • So far, all of the media outlets/sources that have made endorsements on this ballot question have supported the passage of Proposal 1
  • The Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Townships Association and Michigan Association of Counties (as well as dozens of other organizations and groups), have all supported the proposal. View complete list of supporters here.
  • f you have any questions about this proposal, please contact me at (YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION).
  • VOTE on the August 5 Primary Ballot.

Here are some links to additional information about Proposal 1:

1. Review magazine article by the League’s Samantha Harkins detailing the history of the personal property tax reform effort. Click here and go to page 18.

2. Michigan Municipal League One-Pager Plus fact sheet about the 2014 personal property tax reform package.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org and (734) 669-6317.

New MEDC Grant – Public Spaces Community Places – Application Process Open

Applications are now live for the new crowdfunding place-based grant program! The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the League have teamed up with Patronicity, a locally-based crowdfunding platform, to develop Public Spaces Community Places, a new matching grant program for place-based initiatives that utilize crowdfnding. Through Patronicity, communities and non-profits can raise donations to revitalize or create public spaces, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match funds raised dollar for dollar, up to $100,000, if they can reach their goal. Crowdfunding is an easy and innovative way for community projects to gain public interest and raise money by being able to leverage donations of all sizes.

This is the first program of its kind in the country, where local residents can be part of the development of transformational projects in their communities and be backed with matching dollars by the State. The grant program is available to municipalities and non-profits for projects that focus on activation of public spaces such as an outdoor plaza or park enhancements, alley activation, etc.

You can find the application guide on CrowdfundingMI.com. For the online application, click here.

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

Treasury Releases PPT Reimbursement Calculator

The Department of Treasury has released a personal property tax reimbursement spreadsheet to help members calculate their reimbursement amounts under the legislation the Governor signed in March. You can view the spreadsheet and determine your community’s reimbursement amount here: ppt reimbursement worksheet

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues.  She can be reached at sharkins@mml.org or 517-908-0306

PPT Reimbursement for TIF Authorities Forms Available, Due Aug. 29

The first piece of the personal property tax reimbursement package is upon us. It involves reimbursement of TIF plans for small parcel exemption losses.

There are two forms created by Treasury: Form 5176 –Non-Brownfield Authorities and Form 5176BR –Brownfield Authorities . These forms are also available on Treasury’s website: Local Government Officials Forms. One form is for brownfield authorities, and the other form is for all other authorities—DDAs, LDFAs, CIAs, etc.  Small taxpayer exemption loss (as that term is defined here in subsection ‘y’) will be reimbursed to the extent they actually cause revenue loss. If an authority has “negative capture” overall and would not have any tax increment revenue regardless of the small parcel exemption loss, there is no reimbursement. To that end, estimated 2014 tax increment revenue for all property by class is one step in the form. Since brownfield authorities cannot have “negative capture” they do not have to complete that step and it does not appear on the brownfield form.

The instruction pages give step-by-step detail of what data are needed to accurately complete the form. Some is provided via links in the forms, and some must be provided by the authorities.

The process will certainly raise questions from many applicants as they complete it for the first time. In recognition of that, and the delay in the availability of the forms, Treasury is exercising its statutory discretion to extend the June 15 due date. The due date is August 29, 2014.

Should you have any questions while filling this out, please contact Jim Mills in Treasury (Manager, Accounting and Auditing Section, Local Audit and Finance Division) at millsj@michigan.gov or 517-335-4669.

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

 

Federal Transportation Department Tells State Transportation Departments Money is Running Out

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has sent a letter to all State Department of Transportation Directors letting them know that because of the funding shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, reduced payments to states will begin starting August 1st absent Congressional action in order to manage cash flow. The letter is attached below.

There is still no solution agreed upon by Congress. However, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees leadership are meeting to focus on a short term fix that will fund transportation through the end of the fiscal year. The Congressional Budget Office has been warning officials that the Trust Fund would be insolvent in August for the past year. We will continue to keep you posted as this issue progresses and as further impacts are known.

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

Award for Enterprising City/State for Sustainable Transportation Available through MobiPrize Until July 7th!

MobiPrize, an award program through SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research and Transformation) at the University of Michigan, has added a City/State category to their sustainable transportation awards this year. The deadline for the applications is July 7th. The award is for cities that have demonstrated active efforts to build a culture of innovation and encourage entrepreneurship in sustainable transportation through enabling policy changes, capacity building, data sharing, funding (ppp) and other resource allocation efforts, etc.

To access the flyer with additional details, click here. And, to visit the website, click here.

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