USDA Now Accepting Solid Waste Management Grant Applications

Our friends at the USDA asked the Michigan Municipal League to pass this along to our members. So here it is:

USDA Now Accepting Solid Waste Management Grant Applications

USDA Rural Development is currently accepting applications for Solid Waste Management grants. The deadline for the current funding cycle is Monday, January 2, 2018.

Funds can be used to evaluate current landfill conditions, identify threats to water resources, provide training to enhance operations and help communities reduce the amount of solid waste going into a landfill.

The program is open to local governments, non-profit organizations, federally recognized tribes and academic institutions located in areas with populations of 10,000 or less.

Further information on how to apply for this grant opportunity can be found at www.grants.gov, key search term SWMFY2018; visit www.rd.usda.gov/mi; or call (517) 324-5156.

Legislature Considering Retiree Health Care Reforms

Following the Legislature’s attempt at retiree health care (OPEB) reform during lame duck last year, the League was invited to participate in Governor Snyder’s Responsible Retirement Reforms workgroup earlier this year.  That group published its report in July (See the report here) and while the report achieved some limited consensus, the League expressed disappointment that the recommendations did not offer any opportunities for communities to better control the cost structure and ongoing liabilities from this crippling cost driver ( www.SaveMICity.org )

Key legislative leaders and Administration officials have been meeting this fall to develop a legislative proposal based off of the task force report and have solicited input from the relevant interest groups, including MML, and other local government and labor groups.

Our basic understanding of the proposal, based upon the structure of the task force report, is that it would establish legacy cost funding levels and/or percent of budget spending thresholds that if a community were to trip one of those triggers, they would be subject to Treasury review.  Following that review if Treasury deemed a community to be in an underfunded status, the community would have a period of time to develop their own plan to address those under-funding concerns, working with their active and retiree populations.  If a community is unable to develop a plan to address this situation, then a yet to be identified enforcement mechanism would be employed to utilize a specified list of options to address the underfunded situation.

The House Local Government committee heard testimony earlier this month from the state Treasurer, outlining the findings of the task force report and a presentation of data outlining the status of municipal pension and OPEB funding statewide from one of the legislative leaders involved in this issue, as well as the City of Port Huron.

With only about three weeks of session remaining this calendar year, there is broad speculation that a reform proposal could be introduced following the Thanksgiving holiday.  The League is hopeful that any forthcoming proposal will be a thoughtful approach that ensures good, sustainable healthcare for retirees by including useful tools for local units to control their OPEB expenses. We are awaiting an opportunity to review any proposed language to determine if it meets those objectives. This is a quickly evolving situation, so stay tuned as we move through the coming weeks.

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

Federal Tax Reform Update – US Senate Proposal

Staff from the National League of Cities shared the following information with MML and other state leagues over the weekend, following the Senate’s release of their proposed version of tax reform…

Late Thursday, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance Orrin Hatch (R-UT) released the Chairman’s Mark of his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  The Senate Committee on Finance is expected to markup this legislation on November 13, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. We urge you to contact your congressional delegation, especially the Senate Finance Committee (www.finance.senate.gov/about/membership).

After 4 days, the House Ways and Means Committee concluded committee markup on Thursday as well.  A floor vote on H.R. 1 is expected next week, most likely on Wednesday or Thursday.     

In the House, there are still nine Republicans who are opposed to the tax bill because of its treatment of SALT: New Jersey Reps. Leonard Lance, Frank A. LoBiondo and Christopher H. Smith; New York Reps. Peter T. King, Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik and Dan Donovan; and California Reps. Darrell Issa and Tom McClintock. Please thank those Members of the House who are standing strong with us in writing or via social media.

The House and Senate leadership have both stated that they expect to go to conference to reconcile differences in the bills, but they could bypass going to conference entirely.  Either way, they hope to send a final bill to the President for his signature in December. Below, find quick summary on bill differences.

 

  House Bill – Final As of Mark Up Senate Bill – No Markup
Tax Exempt Municipal Bonds Retained (not included in bill) Retained (not included in bill)
Private Activity Bonds Eliminated Retained
Non-refundable Bonds Eliminated Eliminated
State and local income and sales taxes Eliminated (except for those attributable to business income) Eliminated (except for those attributable to business income)
Property taxes Retained (up to $10,000) Eliminated
Mortgage interest Retained (but only on debt up to $500,000 for new loans; no interest on second home, no interest on new home equity loans) Retained (but no deduction on home equity loans)
Personal casualty losses Eliminated (except for federal declared disaster areas) Eliminated (except for federal declared disaster areas)
Nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements Eliminated Eliminated
Historic Tax Credits Eliminated Retained (but reduces their value)
New Mark Tax Credits Eliminated Retained (until current authorization expires in 2 years)
Work Opportunity Tax Credits Eliminated Eliminated
Low Income Housing Tax Credits Eliminated Retained

Today, the Chairs of House Municipal Finance Caucus released an oped to protect bonds and tax credits. www.washingtonexaminer.com/…

Also, NLC was in US News and World Report on tax reform www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2017-11-10/…

We will continue to challenge any plan that threatens the tax exemptions for bonds used to finance critical infrastructure, eliminates the state and local tax deduction that protects local decision making and erases tax credits that strengthen communities.

 

 

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

League Signs Onto NLC Letter Urging Changes to Federal Tax Reform

The National League of Cities (NLC) submitted a letter this afternoon to the members of the House Ways & Means committee expressing support for preserving the tax exempt status of municipal bonds, but relaying concern with a number of provisions that will negatively impact local governments across the country.  As a signatory to this letter, the key concern for Michigan communities is the potential loss of authority for advanced refunding…preventing municipalities from refinancing debt to take advantage of lower interest rates.  This along with the loss of the federal Historic Tax credit program are two key items being raised by NLC and by MML with Michigan’s congressional delegation.  You can read the NLC letter here – NLC SML House Tax letter 2017

As House committee testimony continues throughout the week, we urge League members to contact their member of Congress and ask them to support the changes proposed by NLC. https://www.house.gov/representatives/

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

Financial Dashboard Grant Details Released by Treasury

Local units of government that purchase financial forecasting and transparency reporting tools through one of the State of Michigan’s approved vendors, Munetrix or Forecast5, can now apply for a partial reimbursement.

All cities, villages, townships and counties that enter into an agreement to purchase these web-based tools through Munetrix or Forecast5, on or before December 1, 2017, are eligible for a partial reimbursement under the Financial Data Analytic Tool Reimbursement Program. A total of $500,000 in funding is available for reimbursements during the State’s 2018 fiscal year.

Cities, villages, townships and counties interested in applying for a partial reimbursement must submit their Financial Data Analytic Tool Reimbursement Request (Form 5568) to the Michigan Department of Treasury no later than December 1, 2017.  Attached is a copy of Form 5568 and an informational page regarding the program.

To learn more about the program or to download a reimbursement form, go to  http://www.michigan.gov/treasury/0,4679,7-121-1751_2197-451435–,00.html

Revenue Sharing and Grants Division

Michigan Department of Treasury

517-373-2697

TreasRevenueSharing@michigan.gov

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

Congress Releases Details of Federal Tax Reform Proposal

Congress released the following details of the proposed federal tax reform legislation:

– Ways & Means Cmte Tax Reform Highlights

– bill text  https://waysandmeansforms.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bill_text.pdf

Following NLC’s lead, MML staff have been talking with Michigan delegation members about preserving the State & Local Tax deduction (SALT) within the federal tax code.  The version of the bill released today retains a portion of that deduction for taxpayers to continue deducting local property taxes, but eliminates the deduction for local income taxes.

NLC leaders released the following statement in response to today’s announcement: http://www.nlc.org/article/tax-reform-bill-an-affront-to-local-control

You can view NLC’s State and Local Tax Deduction resource page here: http://www.nlc.org/SALT.

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

State Tax Commission Publishes Latest Headlee Inflation Rate

The State Tax Commission met this week and approved a series of tax bulletins important to local units of government:

The State Tax Commission at their meeting on October 30, 2017 approved the release of Bulletin 16 of 2017, Inflation Rate Multiplier for 2018.  

The 2018 Property Tax Calendar.  

Recalculating Taxable Values for the Assessment Years which follow the Years Changed by an Order of the Michigan Tax Tribunal. This Bulletin rescinded and replaced Bulletin 6 of 1999.

Interest Rates on Michigan Tax Tribunal Judgments.

State Tax Commission
PO Box 30471
Lansing, Michigan 48909-7971
Phone: 517-335-3429
Fax: 517-241-1650
Email: State-Tax-Commission@michigan.gov

 

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

Coalition Kickoff to Reinstate MI Historic Preservation Tax Credit

Please join the Michigan Historic Preservation Network for lunch on Wednesday, November 8, at noon, to kick off the coalition to reinstate the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit!

As you know, the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit was an important tool to drive economic revitalization and leverage investment in historic properties throughout the state. That credit was eliminated in 2011, but recently legislation was introduced to reinstate it (Senate Bill 469). Attend the coalition kick off to learn how you can support the effort.

Please RSVP to mhpn@kelley-cawthorne.com by Friday, November 3, 2017.

The event is taking place in the League’s Lansing office located at 208 N. Capitol Avenue starting at noon on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. For more information contact Nancy Finegood, MHPN Executive Director, at 517-371-8080

 

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.

Performance Audits No Longer a Requirement for Local Road Agencies

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has re-evaluated its decision regarding performance audits. Upon receiving numerous audits as well as concerns regarding the value of these audits, MDOT is no longer requesting that these audits be completed and submitted to the department. Therefore, all local road agencies are not required to begin or complete any scheduled Act 51 performance audits.

It has been further determined by the Department that costs incurred related to these performance audits can be submitted to MDOT for reimbursement. Invoices for fees paid for the performance audit and supporting documentation should be submitted to the attention of Patrick McCarthy by email at mccarthyp@michigan.gov.

For a copy of the letter please click the following link. MDOT Performance Audit Letter

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.

 

MDOT Seeking Input From Local Agencies on Construction Services by October 20

The League is working with MDOT to get your feedback!  The department would like to engage in a more consistent and aligned approach to satisfying their duty of ensuring local agency program compliance with state and federal requirements.  In order to do so, They need to identify areas of construction oversight inconsistencies and gauge the effectiveness of current activities, guidance, and processes.  Your feedback will help them identify things that work well, and more importantly, areas they need to improve.  Please take a few minutes to complete the survey at https://www.research.net/r/X2766XJ

The survey will be open until October 20, 2017.  Anyone who works on Local Agency Program projects, in particular the construction side of things, is welcome to participate.  Responses are not limited to one per agency. Please also feel free to share this survey with your consultants as well.

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.