Revenue Sharing Budgets Positioned for Initial Action; Senate Cuts Statutory by 1.5%

One of the many charts showing how Michigan has disinvested in its cities more than any other state in the state. That tiny red line you see is Michigan.

One of the many charts showing how Michigan has disinvested in its cities more than any other state in the state. That tiny red line you see is Michigan. A 2016-17 Senate budget plan would cut statutory revenue sharing to communities even more. Learn more at SaveMiCity.org

The Michigan House and Senate Appropriations committees made their opening moves on the state budget this week by reporting the full budget bills to the floors of their respective chambers. Following expected floor action on these bills in the coming week or two, each chamber will review the other’s proposal and move toward a final budget deal sometime in early June.

Both proposals continue the current practice of ignoring the fiscal needs of local government, failing to make revenue sharing and the larger issue of municipal finance a budget priority. Without a renewed focus and commitment by the Governor and Legislature, Michigan will continue to occupy last place nationally in our treatment of local government. Learn about the League’s municipal finance initiative at SaveMiCity.org. View how much money your community has lost in revenue sharing here.

The House committee reported an omnibus budget bill, House Bill 5294, to the floor which includes funding for revenue sharing. The House proposal maintains current-year funding for revenue sharing, only deviating from the Governor’s original recommendation by maintaining the $5.8 million that the Governor would have removed for approximately 100 townships that hadn’t received revenue sharing previously.

The Senate committee, on the other hand, moved Senate Bill 788 to the Senate floor with significant changes to the Governor’s proposal for revenue sharing. Statutory revenue sharing would see a 1.5% reduction ($3.85 million) in the Senate version, with the dollars from that reduction being shifted to cover a proposed local match requirement for the purchase of new voting equipment. The League urges you to contact your Senator, asking them to join us in opposition to this approach.

In the Governor’s original budget proposal, the effort to replace existing voting equipment statewide was supported by $10 million in General Fund and $5 million in requested (unidentified) local match. These dollars would be coupled with remaining federal Help America Vote Act funds and dollars appropriated for this purpose in the current budget year. The purchase of new voting equipment has been championed by the County and Municipal Clerks Associations and the Secretary of State’s office, but the call for a local match requirement had not been voiced prior to this year’s budget.

The proposal to accommodate the Governor’s local match request in the Senate version raises serious concerns for the Michigan Municipal League and member communities, even beyond the further erosion of an already devastated statutory revenue sharing base.

  • All cities, villages, townships and counties would benefit from the purchase of new voting equipment, but the local match requirement would only be paid by those cities and villages and few townships that receive a statutory payment. ***Counties and townships that do not receive non-Constitutional revenue sharing payments would pay no local match.  
  • By paying the local match only out of the statutory revenue sharing line, there is no correlation to the actual match requirement for equipment being purchased within each community. In a sample comparing similarly sized communities, one with 19 voting precincts would forgo only about $1,500 in revenue sharing, while another community with only 12 polling places would lose more than $22,000 … and this does not account for the more than 1,000 local government units that would pay nothing in local match!
  • County statutory payments, already funded at 100%, would receive a 2% increase ($4.3 million) in this proposal. Again, without any requirement for a local match for voting equipment purchases by a county.
  • This match requirement would be deducted during the FY 16-17 budget year, yet voting equipment would not be received by any local government until at least 2017 and delivery would like be phased in over two to three years.

Comments have been made that under this proposal, every local unit will receive at least what they received during  the current budget year even with the 1.5% base reduction, but this statement assumes that there will be growth in sales tax revenue driving higher Constitutional revenue sharing payments. Early indications from the most recent Senate Fiscal Agency monthly revenue report reveal that it is unlikely that the state will even meet its already reduced sales tax estimate for the current year, let alone meet the overly optimistic 3.9% growth estimate for the coming year. It is more probable that Constitutional revenue sharing payments will be flat for a third year in a row, if not reduced at some point over the next year.

It is expected that the Senate’s revenue sharing plan will be voted on by the full chamber next week. Please remember to contact your Senator and urge them to begin restoring the cuts of the past decade and reform the way local governments are funded. They should start by rejecting the committee proposal.

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

New “Dark Store” Solution Focuses on Michigan Tax Tribunal Process

A big box "dark store" in southeast Michigan.

A big box “dark store” in southeast Michigan.

State Representative Dave Maturen (R-Vicksburg) introduced House Bill 5578 this week (http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2016-HB-5578) with the support of the Michigan Municipal League and other local government groups, to address the ongoing crisis of “dark store” property tax appeals.

The legislation proposed by Rep. Maturen, was developed following a workgroup process which he chaired and involved participation by the League and numerous local assessors, appraisers and other property valuation experts. The proposal would require Michigan Tax Tribunal members to equitably apply universally accepted appraisal standards when deciding larger property tax appeal cases. These standards will provide consistency in determining highest and best use as part of the property valuation process. The legislation would also restrict the consideration of comparable sales that have deed restrictions if the deed restrictions are imposed by the seller to keep competitors of the seller from the  market and  the deed restrictions provide no benefit to the property but only to the seller’s business.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday (April 27) before the House Tax Policy committee. League members are encouraged to contact the legislators on the Tax Policy committee at this link and your own Representative and Senator to explain the importance of this issue and to urge their support for HB 5578. Use the League’s Action Center to contact your lawmakers.

Visit the League’s information page on the Dark Stores issue here: http://www.mml.org/advocacy/dark-stores/

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

MDOT Seeks Comments on Rural Transportation Planning Process

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is federally required to reach out to local elected officials in non-metropolitan areas every five years to gauge their involvement and knowledge of the transportation planning process.

They are currently seeking input through a short on-line survey.  Please complete the survey between now and May 31, 2016. To complete the survey please click here.

If you have any questions, please contact Pamela Boyd, Supervisor, Statewide Planning Section at MDOT via email at boydp1@michigan.gov.

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

PPT Reimbursement and Budget Preparation Guidance from Michigan Department of Treasury

The Michigan Department of Treasury has asked us to share some information detailing changes to the Personal Property Tax local government reimbursements for 2016-17 budget preparation. Treasury has prepared a document below and requested the Michigan Municipal League pass it along to our members. If you have any questions, there is contact information at the end.

Here is the information from Treasury:

In 2012, legislation was passed providing new personal property tax exemptions for small taxpayers (starting in 2014) and eligible manufacturing personal property (EMPP, phase-in starting in 2016).  The Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) Act, 2014 PA 86, requires reimbursement for the loss from the personal property exemptions.  The payments are made using the Authority’s share of the 6% use tax.

How the Loss in Taxable Value is Measured.  Beginning for 2016, the personal property exemption loss is calculated by subtracting each local unit’s current year taxable value of all industrial and commercial personal property from its 2013 taxable value of industrial and commercial personal property.  Calculations include IFT property, with IFT new facility TV reported at 50%.  Calculations exclude property classified as either industrial or commercial personal in one year but classified as either real property or utility personal in the other year.  County equalization directors will report the personal property exemption loss amounts to Treasury.

Millage Rates Being Reimbursed.  All types of millage are being reimbursed.  Except for local school district/ISD debt millage, reimbursements are calculated using each taxing unit’s sum of the lowest rate of each individual millage levied between 2012 and the immediately preceding year.  Treasury posts these rates on the Internet by May 1 of each year.  School districts/ISDs must report their current-year debt millage to Treasury by August 15.

Calculation of Reimbursements.  The personal property exemption loss is multiplied by the millage rates being reimbursed.  It is estimated there will be 100% reimbursement for all losses.  While all millages are being reimbursed, the reimbursements for certain losses and millage are calculated separately.  The following losses/millages are guaranteed 100% reimbursement:

  • Local school district and ISD millages;
  • Millage used to fund essential services, i.e. police, fire, ambulance and jails, including the loss from expiring tax exemptions that is reported on Form 5403 by the assessor;
  • Tax increment financing loss, including, for certain TIF plans, any loss from increased captured value; and
  • 2015 small taxpayer exemption loss.

Reimbursement for other millages may be at less than 100% or more than 100%, depending on the total calculated losses for those millages and the $ available for reimbursement.  We estimate the LCSA will have sufficient $ to reimburse all losses at 100%.

Beginning for 2019, 5% of the $ available for reimbursement under the previous paragraph will be distributed based on each taxing unit’s share of EMPP tax loss calculated using a modified acquisition cost of exempt EMPP.  That 5% is increased by 5% each year for 20 years, until no $ are distributed under the previous paragraph.

Taxing units will not have to claim reimbursement, except for tax increment financing plans, which will file Form 5176.  Reimbursements for most millage will be calculated using millage rates already available to Treasury.  Most local school districts receive reimbursement for their basic operating mills through operation of the state school aid formula.

Timing of reimbursements.  Reimbursement for county allocated millage will be paid on September 20th.  Reimbursement for other county millage, township millage, and other millage levied 100% in December will be paid the following February 20.  All other millage reimbursements will be paid on October 20th.

Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget preparation.  In estimating FY 17 revenues, for the millage rates being reimbursed, local units should assume that their FY 17 property tax revenues from industrial/commercial personal property, including LCSA reimbursement, will equal their FY 14 property tax revenue from industrial/commercial personal property.  Millage increases after 2012 will not be reimbursed.

Total Amount of Reimbursements.  Reimbursements will total $374 million for calendar year 2016 losses, increasing to over $500 million for calendar year 2021 losses, as the EMPP exemption phases in.

For additional personal property tax reimbursement information, please email TreasORTA@michigan.gov, or call 517-373-2697.

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

Michigan Road Preservation Association Annual City County Workshop

Michigan Road Preservation Association Annual City County Workshop will be held on April 7, 2016 in Lansing. The workshop will explore the best practice of pavement preservation. Attendees will learn:

• Best treatments to use at each point along the pavement deterioration curve
• Technical advantages and specifications for specific treatments
• Find answers from peers and industry leaders that can help guide local agency preventive maintenance decision making.

For more information about the workshop please click on the following link. MRPA Annual Workshop 2016

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

Transportation Asset Management Council Spring Conference

The Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council has finalized the spring conference program for Wednesday, April 13 at the Dearborn/Detroit Hilton DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center. The agenda and hotel reservation information can be found at the following link. 2016 Spring Asset Management Program Agenda

The TAMC Conference Committee put together a broad spectrum of topics this year and we are very excited for the event.  The goal was to provide value across a diverse audience and discuss emerging issues such as the new Federal Performance Management regulations, new technologies in pavement maintenance,  incorporating other corridor utility information in Transportation Asset Management planning, and learning Asset Management strategies from our neighbors to the North.  The conference will also include updates from Director Kirk Steudle, the MDOT Metro Region, TAMC activities and reporting of 2015 bridge and pavement conditions.

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

 

MDOT seeks applications for 2017 High Risk Rural Road program.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) program. The FY 2017 federal budget for this program is estimated to be $2,000,000.

A HRRR is defined as: 1) any roadway functionally classified as rural major or minor collector or a rural local road that the crash rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries exceeds the statewide average for those functional classes of roadway, or 2) any roadway functionally classified as rural major or minor collector or a rural local road that will likely have increases in traffic volumes that are likely to create a crash rate for fatalities and incapacitating injuries that exceeds the statewide average for those functional classes of roadway.

For more information on the High Risk Rural Road program please click here. For the electronic submittal form click here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pamela Blazo at (517) 335-2224 or at blazop@michigan.gov.

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

Michigan Investment in Municipalities Worst in Nation – By Far, Census Data Shows

The League's Anthony Minghine discusses revenue sharing during the news conference Monday afternoon.

The League’s Anthony Minghine discusses revenue sharing during the news conference Monday afternoon.

How bad is the municipal finance situation in Michigan? It’s the worse in the nation over the last decade, according to new data unveiled at a Michigan Municipal League news conference Monday, March 21.

And the culprit? State policies and politicians who have ignored the needs of cities, in the process damaging the state’s overall economy.

U.S. Census data shows Michigan is the ONLY state in the nation where municipal revenues overall declined from 2002-12 (the most recent information available).

Across the state, municipal revenues were down by 8.63 percent over that period, led by a 56 percent reduction in state revenue sharing.

Meanwhile, overall state revenues increased 39 percent. The numbers show that the state balanced its budget on the backs of cities.

The successful news conference was covered by multiple news outlets and also was live-streamed.

savemicity-large-websticker-72dpiView articles by the Detroit News, Gongwer, the Associated Press, Crain’s Detroit Business, the Detroit Free Press, MIRS News Service and WDET radio. The Free Press report is a column by Nancy Kaffer and does a particularly good job explaining the plight of cities.

You can see all the details at SaveMICity.org, a new web site the Michigan Municipal League has set up to provide information about the severity of the municipal finance problem facing Michigan, and offer solutions over time.

The website also has a new data base showing the revenue sharing dollar amounts diverted from every community in the state from 2002 to 2015.

More than $7.5 billion has been diverted statewide in that time period. Look up your community’s information here.

One of the many charts showing how Michigan has disinvested in its cities more than any other state in the state. That tiny red line you see is Michigan.

One of the many charts showing how Michigan has disinvested in its cities more than any other state in the state. That tiny red line you see is Michigan.

“Our cities are facing desperate conditions,” said League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin.

And he pointed to “fundamentally flawed” state policies providing for municipal finance, including massive cuts in revenue sharing since 2002, limits on assessment increases, but none on decreases, and other punitive state policy decisions.

Across America, the statewide average increase in municipal revenues was more than 40 percent.

The state with the next worse municipal finance revenue growth was Ohio, and there revenue grew by 25.7 percent. Around the nation, the average increase was more than 40 percent.

League Associate Executive Director and COO Tony Minghine has been leading a task force of League members and staff in examining the situation and brainstorming solutions. Minghine explained at the news conference that state policies have led to “strategic disinvestment” by cities, as they struggle to balance budgets in the face of declining revenues. He asked rhetorically whether Flint might have been able to avoid its man-made water contamination catastrophe if it had received the $63 million in revenue sharing withheld by the state since 2002 as a part of state budget balancing.

Minghine said more revenue is just one part of the League’s plan to be laid out in coming months, to try to address the pressing situation. He said cities will ask for legislative approval to address cost issues and look at the structure of local services in ways that are today prohibited by state law.

Another chart showing how Michigan has disinvested in its cities more than any other state in the state.

Another chart showing how Michigan has disinvested in its cities more than any other state in the state.

Wayne Mayor Susan Rowe showed how the situation is facing her city, which has seen revenue sharing cut by a cumulative $7.8 million since 2002 and has lost millions more in tax base due to decisions made at the state level regarding assessment practices. Wayne has laid off half its police force and still will run out of money in 2017. “We need the state to keep its promises to cities,” she said.

Mitch Bean of the Michigan Economic Consulting Group minced no words in putting the current plight of many cities on state policies. He pointed out that the combination of the Headlee Amendment to the state constitution and Proposal A allow assessments to drop during hard times, but limit their growth during good times. As a result, even a relatively well-off community like Farmington Hills, which saw assessments drop 30 percent from 2008 to 2012, will likely not see its tax base return to 2008 levels until 2025.

Why should state policymakers care about what they are doing to cities? Shanna Draheim of Public Sector Consultants, which has prepared a new report “Creating 21st Century Communities, Making the Economic Case for Place” said the result of these state decisions is that Michigan cities are lagging successful communities in attracting new talent. And that means the state is lagging in that vital category. You can see it in state personal income data, where Michigan has gone from a top 15 state to a bottom 15 state in per capita income since 2000.

Speakers during Monday's Michigan Municipal League press conference in Lansing. From left, Mitch Bean, Wayne Mayor Susan Rowe, Eric Lupher, Anthony Minghine and Dan Gilmartin.

Speakers during Monday’s Michigan Municipal League press conference in Lansing. From left, Mitch Bean, Wayne Mayor Susan Rowe, Eric Lupher, Anthony Minghine and Dan Gilmartin.

“States that have invested in cities are doing the best. They are growing economically. Michigan has the opportunity to do the same,” said Draheim.

But not unless we make some major changes to the state’s municipal finance policies, in a way that will let cities create the safe, walkable, fun locations that people want to move to. Until that happens, all of Michigan will suffer as the state’s economy sputters and fails to provide the public goods and economic opportunities that benefit all of us, whether we live in a big city, or rural township.

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

Libraries Push for Tax Capture Opt-Out

The Michigan Senate voted overwhelmingly today to send a seven-bill package over to the House that would allow separate millages for library purposes to opt-out of tax capture situations.  Senate Bills 579 and 619-624 moved out of the Senate this morning despite strong opposition from local government groups, including the League.

A separate discussion has been underway in the House for the past year, that would look at TIF and DDA reform from a much broader perspective.  At the same time, the Snyder Administration has initiated a workgroup process on this issue.  The League and many individual League member communities have been invited to participate on those workgroups that have bee set up to examine this topic at a holistic level.  A different group of Senators have expressed an interest in talking about TIF/DDA reform along those broader lines, as well.  Any reform proposals in this area need to be viewed comprehensively and not approached in a piecemeal fashion and we will continue to advocate from that standpoint, looking to preserve these important local economic development tools.

These Senate bills are scheduled to be referred to the House Tax Policy committee where the League will be working to oppose them.  Please contact your State Representative and let them know that this is a complex, important issue for all local governments and that TIF districts are a critical tool for local economic development that should not be dismantled.

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

Tuesday’s Election Fills House Vacancies

In addition to the Presidential Primary on Tuesday, three Michigan House districts held special general elections to fill vacancies.  The three districts that held special elections were the 75th in the city of Grand Rapids, the 80th in Allegan County and the 82nd district in Lapeer County.  With these seats filled, only one vacancy remains in the 110 member House of Representatives following the resignation of Derek Miller (D-Warren).  Miller was appointed Macomb County Treasurer at the end of January.  The special election to fill the remainder of the current term in that now vacant 28th House District will take place later this year to coincide with the August primary and November general elections.

On Tuesday in Grand Rapids, democrat David LaGrand was elected as State Representative, taking over for former Rep. Brandon Dillion, who now works for the Michigan Democratic Party.  LaGrand won with over 77% of the vote.

In Allegan County, republican Mary Whiteford was elected as State Representative, taking over for former Rep. Cindy Gamrat.  Whiteford was elected with nearly 64% of the vote.

In Lapeer County, republican Gary Howell was elected as State Representative, taking over for former Rep. Todd Courser.  Howell won with just under 59% of the vote.

LaGrand, Whiteford and Howell will serve out the remainder of the current term, through the end of 2016, and are expected to run for re-election in the fall.

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