Governor Snyder Signs Recreational Authorities Bill with Support from Big Rapids and League

The League's Chris Hackbarth and League Member and Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba (green tie) joined Governor Rick Snyder in signing HB 4578.

The League’s Chris Hackbarth and League Member and Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba (green tie) joined Governor Rick Snyder in signing HB 4578.

Today, the Michigan Municipal League’s Chris Hackbarth and League Member and Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba joined Governor Rick Snyder in signing House Bill 4578.

The new law clarifies the use of tax proceeds by a recreational authority and is expanded to include school districts. Working in conjunction with officials from the City of Big Rapids, the League was successful in getting the legislation approved with support from bill sponsors Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart; and Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac. View a previous blog about the legislation here.

The legislation, modeled on similar legislation from previous sessions, expands the definition of an eligible municipality to include a school district. This change also allows a city, village, or township to partner with a school district to form a recreation authority allowing broader access to recreation programming and facilities throughout a region.

Thank you to Mayor Warba and other Big Rapids area officials for their support on this bill! We also like to thank bill sponsors Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart; and Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac.

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

Lame Duck Legislative Work Underway; Sign up for Inside 208 Updates!

subscribe-here-arrowThe Lame Duck session of the state Legislature is in full swing and there are a number of key issues potentially impacting your communities that the Michigan Municipal League is working on and watching. WE MAY NEED YOUR HELP over the next several days as the Legislature currently has session scheduled through Dec. 15.

For regular updates on what is happening, the League strongly encourages you to sign up to receive email alerts from our Legislative blog, Inside 208. Please go here and sign up in the “subscribe” box on the right side of the page by typing in your email address. This is a free service provided to League members and you will receive emails each time a new Inside 208 blog is posted about the latest Legislative activity happening in Lansing. As issues arise, the League will be posting regularly on Inside 208 and we may be asking you to contact your Legislators on various bills.

Currently, there are multiple pieces of legislation the League is following that could have both a positive and/or a negative impact on your communities.

Some of major issues we have blogged about so far include bills to reform Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) or retirement health care, changes to Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Authorities, a bill that limits local control on transportation network companies and taxis (think Uber and Lyft), new economic development tools, and potential energy reform.

Please help us by signing up to receive our Inside 208 blog emails during this quickly-moving, ever-changing Lame Duck legislative sessions.

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

Lame Duck Agenda Whispers in Michigan Legislature

MIRS article related to a OPEB issue.

MIRS article related to a OPEB issue.

In case you didn’t see it, there was a recent article in MIRS quoting Governor Snyder as suggesting municipal retirement health care reforms could be considered during the upcoming lame duck legislative session. This is an issue that the League has identified as a key cost driver for communities (www.SaveMICity.org) and is a major area of interest for our members.

While there are only between nine and eleven session days currently scheduled and no bills or proposals to react to, we are monitoring this issue very closely and working to ensure that should any proposal surface, municipal concerns and fiscal stresses will be at the forefront of the debate.

In terms of background on this issue: for over a year now, the Michigan Municipal League has been advocating for the need to reform the state’s municipal finance system. The League Board of Trustees approved a platform of municipal finance reform centered around cost, structure, and revenue.

opeb-chart-with-percentagesThe single biggest cost reform identified by our members is the need to restructure our retiree health care obligation, commonly known as OPEB – “Other Post-Employment Benefit”. The data (view pie chart and go here) supports what our members have repeatedly told us: the escalating costs of providing retiree health care benefits, not pensions, are the biggest impediment and greatest threat to investing in their communities.

We will continue to keep members updated if there are any developments along this topic.

(Posted by Matt Bach, League director of media relations, on behalf of Chris Hackbarth).

Please feel free to contact Chris Hackbarth if you have any questions: 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

Outstanding ‘Boxed In’ Documentary Film Explains Dark Stores Tax Loophole Issue in Michigan

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There is a fantastic new documentary film that does an outstanding job explaining the complex, yet devastating “Dark Stores” tax loophole issue facing Michigan communities. This is a hot topic the Michigan Municipal League has been fighting for more than a year and at a compact 24-minutes it is great film to show in your local communities when explaining this issue.

“Boxed In” is a documentary by Northern Michigan University Professor Dwight Brady, an Emmy Award winning producer, and 14 NMU students.

It premiered in Marquette Aug. 24 and will be shown again Wednesday, Aug. 31, in Escanaba at 7 p.m. in the Besse Theater at Bay College.

You can watch the documentary and read more about it, including a press release, here: http://boxedin.news/what-is-boxed-in-all-about/.

Attorney Jack Van Coevering is featured in 'Box In'.

Attorney Jack Van Coevering is featured in ‘Box In’.

You can also read more information about the Dark Stores issue on the League’s Dark Stores resource page here: http://www.mml.org/advocacy/dark-stores/.

In essence, the Dark Store theory is a tax loophole scheme being used by Big Box retailers to lower the amount they pay in property taxes. Retailers such as Meijer, Lowe’s, Target, Kohl’s, Menards, IKEA, Wal-Mart and Home Depot across Michigan are arguing that the market value of their operating store should be based on the sales of similar size “comparable” properties that are vacant and abandoned and may not even be located in Michigan. The stores also place deed restrictions on the vacated buildings that greatly limit what can go in the buildings once they are empty and become dark.

A bill to address the issue was overwhelming approved in the Michigan House in a 97-11 vote (http://blogs.mml.org/wp/inside208/2016/06/08/dark-stores-fix-wins-approval-in-house/) in June, but is pending in the state Senate where greater opposition is expected.

An example of a Dark Store. Big Box stores argue vacant, or dark stores, like this one should be used as a comparable for tax evaluation purposes when valuing a vibrant, open big box store. Unfortunately the Michigan Tax Tribunal since 2010 has started to agree.

An example of a Dark Store. Big Box stores argue vacant, or dark stores, like this one should be used as a comparable for tax evaluation purposes when valuing a vibrant, open big box store. Unfortunately the Michigan Tax Tribunal since 2010 has started to agree.

The documentary film started out as a class project but it quickly developed into a much larger story that took Dr. Brady and his students from Marquette, to Lansing, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Grand Blanc and other other stops along the way.

They interviewed 15 different sources, including State Rep. David Maturen, who authored the bill that was approved in the House. The bill would require the Michigan State Tax Tribunal to follow traditional methods of assessing property.

The students also interviewed Grand Blanc Township Superintendent Dennis Liimatta, current Chair of the Michigan Tax Tribunal, Steven Lasher, and Former Chief Judge Jack Van Coevering to get different perspectives on the issue. Read more about the film here: http://boxedin.news/what-is-boxed-in-all-about/.

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

Got Blight? Money Available for Local Governments for Targeted Demolition

Got blight? Our friends at MSHDA asked that we share this with our member communities:

MSHDA 2016 Hardest Hit Blight Elimination NOFA

The Michigan Homeowner Assistance Non Profit Housing Corporation (MHA) working in conjunction with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is seeking proposals in support of targeted demolition activity within local units of governments across Michigan with the goal of initiating or triggering private investment and development; supporting current investment and development; and to promote the increase in values of the surrounding areas. Proposals selected to participate in the Hardest Hit Blight Elimination Program will be funded by an award MHA received from the U.S. Department of Treasury. MHA and MSHDA are partners but separate entities.

For further information on MHA, contact Mary Townley on behalf of MHA at 517-373-6864 or townleym1@michigan.gov.

LaMacchia: Infrastructure Issues in Flint Symptom of Larger Problem

The League's John LaMacchia (center, right) and fellow panelists.

The League’s John LaMacchia (center, right) and fellow panelists.

What’s happening in Flint, Detroit and other cities is a symptom of a larger problem. A problem where cities in Michigan are only allowed to fall with the economy but not to prosper as the economy grows. And it’s only going to get worse if we don’t change the way the nation invests in communities.

This was a key message by the Michigan Municipal League’s John LaMacchia when speaking Thursday in Washington D.C. as part of Infrastructure Week 2016. The Infrastructure Week celebration organized by the National League of Cities and its partners is to raise awareness about the nation’s infrastructure needs. Cities construct and maintain the majority of our nation’s infrastructure and depend on a solid infrastructure network to provide safe and healthy communities, and grow their local economies.

The League's John LaMacchia is in Washington D.C. this week for the National League of Cities Infrastructure Week celebration. As part of his work, LaMacchia (center left) met with U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (right).

The League’s John LaMacchia is in Washington D.C. this week for the National League of Cities Infrastructure Week celebration. As part of his work, LaMacchia (center left) met with U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (right).

LaMacchia, assistant director of state affairs for the League, spoke as part of a panel discussion on “Securing Our Water Future: 21st Century Solutions for 21st Century Cities”. Other panelists were Council Member Matt Zone, City of Cleveland, Ohio, and National League of Cities 1st Vice President; Council Member Ron Nirenberg, City of San Antonio, Texas, and Chair, National League of Cities Energy and Environment Committee; Commissioner Heather Repenning, President Pro Tempore, Los Angeles Board of Public Works; Tyrone Jue, Senior Advisor on Environment to Mayor Ed Lee, City of San Francisco, California; Jonathan Trutt, Executive Director, West Coast Infrastructure Exchange; and Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities.

LaMacchia discussed the Flint water crisis and explained how the Flint issue is part of a much larger infrastructure problem in communities statewide.

Some of his key points included:

  • Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Gov. Rick Snyder agree Flint’s lead-tainted service lines need to be removed. But it will take at least $55 million to replace all the lead-tainted lines. Money for water infrastructure has been put into appropriations bills in the Michigan Legislature and U.S. Congress, but the bills are still making their way through those legislative bodies.
  • The service lines are just part of the problem. The rest of Flint’s water system, from aging water mains to other infrastructure, needs to be totally replaced. The city’s water system loses a large percentage of the water to leaks, one reason Flint has some of the highest water rates in the country. Again, the City of Flint will need help from the state and federal governments to modernize its water infrastructure, a process that is expected to cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • When we look at Michigan as a whole we have neglected to properly invest, maintain and right size our infrastructure.
    The league's John LaMacchia speaks on a panel during Infrastructure Week in Washington D.C. May 19, 2016.

    The League’s John LaMacchia speaks on a panel during Infrastructure Week in Washington D.C. May 19, 2016.

  • For nearly 30 years Michigan has been about 10 million people yet we have increased the amount of infrastructure in the state by roughly 50% and giving little thought to how we would maintain both the old and new infrastructure.
  • Time and time again we have built new water and sewer plants without capitalizing on the existing capacity of a nearby system.
  • This not only speaks to how we have been inefficient in managing infrastructure in Michigan but also how we have disinvested in our communities in general.
  • Why cities are important: Our goal at the Michigan Municipal League is to make Michigan communities places people want to be. Places that can attract a talented work force and businesses. Having placemaking strategies in all communities is important. But it’s hard to even think about creating great places when you’re fighting every day not to drown. How can you attract businesses and a work force if your roads are crumbling, bridges are in disrepair and you’re communities have slashed the number of police officers, firefighters, public works employees and more?
  • The numbers show that some states – particularly Michigan – do not understand the importance of cities as economic drivers. If they did they would be investing in cities. But unfortunately they are disinvesting in cities.
  • According to U.S. Census data all but one state showed growth in municipal general revenue between 2002 and 2012. View chart here.
  • Many want to blame this on a single state recession but the numbers tell a different story.
  • Why is this the case in Michigan – property values decrease in 2008 crash and the Michigan Constitution limits their ability to recover, PLUS revenue sharing to the tune of $7.5 billion over the last decade plus.

LaMacchia concluded explaining Michigan’s system for funding municipalities is fundamentally broken and unless it gets fixed we’re going to see more situations like what’s happening in Flint and Detroit occur in other communities.

Also earlier this week, NLC released a new report called, Paying for Local Infrastructure in a New Era of Federalism. Read a blog about the report by the League’s Summer Minnick.

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

League’s John LaMacchia in Washington D.C. Talking Infrastructure

The League's John LaMacchia.

The League’s John LaMacchia.

The Michigan Municipal League’s John LaMacchia will be in Washington D.C. Thursday to participate in Infrastructure Week 2016. The celebration organized by the National League of Cities and its partners is to raise awareness about the nation’s infrastructure needs. Cities construct and maintain the majority of our nation’s infrastructure and depend on a solid infrastructure network to provide safe and healthy communities, and grow their local economies.

LaMacchia, assistant director of state affairs for the League, will speak 2:30-4 p.m. Thursday, May 19, as part of a panel discussion on “Securing Our Water Future: 21st Century Solutions for 21st Century Cities”. The panel discussion will be live-streamed on the NLC’s Facebook page.

Other panelists are Council Member Matt Zone, City of Cleveland, Ohio, and National League of Cities 1st Vice President; Council Member Ron Nirenberg, City of San Antonio, Texas, and Chair, National League of Cities Energy and Environment Committee; Commissioner Heather Repenning, President Pro Tempore, Los Angeles Board of Public Works; Tyrone Jue, Senior Advisor on Environment to Mayor Ed Lee, City of San Francisco, California; Jonathan Trutt, Executive Director, West Coast Infrastructure Exchange; and Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities.

LaMacchia will discuss the Flint water crisis but he’ll explain how the Flint issue is part of a much larger infrastructure problem in communities statewide.

Also earlier this week, NLC released a new report called, Paying for Local Infrastructure in a New Era of Federalism. Declining funding, increasing mandates and misaligned priorities at the federal and states levels have put responsibility for infrastructure on local governments. But what ability do cities have to take up this call? The authority of cities to meaningfully address growing infrastructure challenges is bound by levers authorized to them by their states. The study finds that cities are limited in the number and scope of tools they are authorized to use, and that access to these tools is highly uneven in states across the country. Read a blog about the report by the League’s Summer Minnick.

View the report here: http://www.nlc.org/find-city-solutions/city-solutions-and-applied-research/infrastructure/local-infrastructure-funding-report

View the full infrastructure week schedule here: http://www.nlc.org/influence-federal-policy/infrastructure-week-2016

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

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 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.

League’s Dan Gilmartin Talks Flint Water Crisis, Infrastructure Issues at Congressional Briefing

Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin participates in a Congressional Briefing on the Flint Water Crisis and infrastructure issues in Washington D.C. Wednesday.

Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin participates in a Congressional Briefing on the Flint Water Crisis and infrastructure issues in Washington D.C. Wednesday.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin and fellow municipal leaders from across the nation called for a partnership between cities, states and the federal government to improve the country’s ailing infrastructure.

Gilmartin participated in a panel discussion at the Congressional Capitol Briefing earlier today (March 9, 2016) in Washington D.C. Gilmartin and the panel discussed national infrastructure issues and the Flint water crisis. Other scheduled panelists were Mayor Mark Stodola, of Little Rock, Arkansas; Councilmember Greg Evans, of Eugene Oregon; and Councilmember Andy Huckaba, of Lenexa, Kansas.

The panel also discussed whether federal policies are keeping pace with local efforts to reevaluate and reconfigure infrastructure for the next generation. More than 200 members of Congress and congressional staff attended the event at the Capitol Visitors Center Auditorium. The briefing is part of the National League of Cities annual Congressional City Conference concluding today.

In response to the Flint water crisis, the NLC on Tuesday announced a resolution that declared that the nation’s cities stand united in support of Flint. The resolution also included a call to Congress and the Administration to resolve the Flint Water Crisis. View the resolution here.

Here is an excerpt of the press statement about the resolution:

NLC is also calling on Congress and the administration to support robust funding for all water infrastructure mechanisms, including the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund programs and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

“The true tragedy is that the families-and children-impacted by the lead contamination in Flint will endure long-term education and mental health impacts,” said National League of Cities President Melodee Colbert-Kean, councilmember, Joplin, Mo.”The federal government must make a long-term commitment to help these families with the challenges that lie ahead.”

“The Flint drinking water crisis is unconscionable and unacceptable. Cites stand in solidarity with Flint, and the National League of Cities stands united with all American cities in the need to update our nation’s deteriorating water infrastructure,” saidNational League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “We must invest in the infrastructure our communities depend on. We need the federal government to step up, and work with cities to make sure there will never again be another disaster like in Flint.”

“The tragic events in Flint are a wake-up call for the nation. Policies that ignore critical infrastructure needs result in a shameful disinvestment in our cities, leading to problems like we are experiencing in Flint,” said Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League. “The Michigan state government has shorted communities $7 billion in revenue since 2000. The Flint crisis is the latest result of this ruinous policy.”

Access to clean drinking water is fundamental for the health and well-being of America’s communities and families. Lead-contaminated drinking water can have permanent and long-term effects on mental health, IQ and development, particularly in infants and children.

There is an urgent need to invest in our aging water infrastructure nationwide. The EPA estimates the U.S. water infrastructure capital needs to be approximately $720 billion over the next 20 years.

View the full press release about the resolution here.

NLC is the nation’s largest and most representative membership and advocacy organization for city officials, comprised of more than 19,000 cities, towns, and villages representing more than 218 million Americans.

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