New CRC Report Further Proof that Michigan’s Municipal Finance System is Broken

The Michigan Municipal League released a media statement today about a new report from the Citizens Research Council showing that state tax revenues increased by $1.2 billion from 2009 to 2012, while local tax revenues declined by $1.1 billion in the same time period.

Here is a portion of our statement from League President and Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan, which can also be viewed here:

This is further proof that the state has balanced its budget on the backs of local communities while at the same time placing additional requirements, stipulations and bureaucratic red tape on local governments in the form of the cumbersome and problematic Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP).

“Simply put, these findings are an outrage,” said Noonan. “The state continues to divert revenue sharing away from local governments while the state’s surplus grows to nearly a billion dollars. After taking our money, the state then has the audacity to criticize Michigan’s cities and villages for not operating efficiently. It would be like someone taking money out of your wallet and then a day later penalizing you for not having any money. The partnership between state and local governments is broken, and it’s time to fix it.”

The Michigan Municipal League calls on the Legislature to fix the broken partnership between the state and communities and to work together to create the places where people want to live, work, play and create jobs.

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

Act Now: Call Lawmakers and Tell Them to Oppose Proposed Changes to EVIP, Revenue Sharing

The Michigan Municipal League is asking our League members to contact their state lawmakers today to oppose changes to the revenue sharing/Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). These changes were approved in the House Appropriations General Government Subcommittee this morning (March 25, 2014) and are expected to go to the House floor this week for a vote. It’s imperative our members tell their legislators to oppose this action.

To learn about these proposed changes, read this blog post by the League’s Samantha Harkins.

When contacting your lawmakers here are some key points to make:

- The intent of revenue sharing dollars is to help communities fund essential services their residents desire, such as police and fire protection, water and sewer service, snow removal, infrastructure improvements, etc.

- The proposed changes would expand the EVIP program to nearly 1,500 local governments, including 1,035 townships.

- We question why the program is being expanded to local units of governments that don’t provide essential services that cities, villages and urban townships provide.

- The proposal changes how EVIP funds are distributed to a per capita formula. This formula would add hundreds of additional communities to the formula without any consideration of whether these communities provide essential services.

- The League is happy to have a discussion about the best way to get resources to our communities; however, a pure per capita distribution will have a detrimental effect on the many Michigan communities who provide essential services while rewarding those communities who do not.

- The proposal requires local units of government to commit increased EVIP funds to road maintenance and unfunded liabilities. This “one-size-fits-all-mentality” is the ultimate rebuff of local control. Local units of government are careful stewards of taxpayer dollars and know and understand the priorities of their community and residents. The Legislature dictating how funds are spent does not take into account other important needs for funding. Perhaps roads and unfunded liabilities are the best place for this money to be spent in one community but not another. That is up to the local community to decide.

The League appreciates all that you can do in sharing the concerns about this proposal. If you have any questions about this please contact the League’s Samantha Harkins at sharkins@mml.org and (517) 908-0306.

Media Throughout Michigan Report on Great Revenue Sharing Heist Study by Michigan Municipal League

League members talk with the media at a press event about revenue sharing at EVIP March 18 in Lansing.

Media from all parts of Michigan have reported on the Michigan Municipal League’s revenue sharing study that showed the state has diverted $6.2 billion from local communities in the last decade. The League released the study last week during our Capital Conference and sent press releases to dozens of media outlets.

Here is a sampling of some of the articles done so far:
- Michgian cities slam state for holding onto $6.2 billion: Detroit News

- Michigan’s $6.2 billion raid on revenue sharing? See how much local communities lost since 2003: mlive.com statewide

- Wyandotte’s deficit tied to decline in state revenue sharing: The News Heard, the Voice of Downriver

- Revenue sharing could have kept Lincoln Park out of financial crisis, officials say: The News Heard, the Voice of Downriver

- Macomb cities lost more than $100 million due to state cuts: Macomb Daily Tribune

- Michigan Municipal League says Legislature diverted funding; Midland loses $10.9 million: Midland Daily News

- Our View: State turning corner on revenue sharing: Midland Daily News editorial

- Report says Flint lost out on nearly $55 million in revenue sharing in last decade: Flint Journal/mlive.com

- Six things Flint could have paid for with $55 million in revenue sharing: Flint Journal/mlive.com

- Michigan Cities contend lost $6.2 billion in lost revenue: Metro Times, Detroit

The League study showed that communities from Marquette to St. Joseph and everywhere in between are among the Michigan cities and villages that lost hundreds of millions of dollars in statutory revenue sharing over the past decade because the governor and Legislature diverted the funds to the state budget.

If the funds had not been diverted by state lawmakers, the fiscal crises facing many local Michigan communities today might not be so severe.

Statutory revenue sharing funds are earmarked by state law for local communities across Michigan to support essential local services including police and fire, water systems, road maintenance, parks and libraries, and more. The funds represent a percentage of sales tax revenues collected at the local levels. Instead, between 2003 and 2013, the governor and Legislature diverted $6.2 billion in statutory revenue sharing from local communities to plug holes in the state budget and to pay for tax cuts for businesses.

Much of this data was also included in the March/April 2014 edition of the Michigan Municipal League Review magazine for an article titled, “The Great Revenue Sharing Heist” by Anthony Minghine, associate executive director and chief operations officer for the Michigan Municipal League. The article is available at mml.org: http://www.mml.org/advocacy/great-revenue-sharing-heist.html.

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

EVIP Continues to be Problematic for Communities, says League’s Samantha Harkins on MIRS Podcast

Samantha Harkins

The Michigan Municipal League’s Samantha Harkins was a guest today (Feb. 10, 2014) on the MIRSnews.com podcast and covered an array of topics including road funding, the importance of public transit, an update on the personal property tax issue and proposed changes Gov. Snyder wants to make to the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). She even discusses Willie Wonka and the Eagles and Don Henley. This is a must listen for League members wanting to hear how the League is fighting for our communities in Lansing. Great job Samantha.

Her part starts around the 8:30 minute mark in the 20-minute weekly podcast. Listen here. Read more from Samantha Harkins and League staff on our legislative blog. Many of the topics Harkins discussed tie into the League’s placemaking message and how having vibrant communities will lead to having a better Michigan. Learn more about placemaking at placemaking.mml.org.

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

15% Increase a Good Start, But Governor’s Budget Plan Does Not Fix Broken Municipal Finance System

Governor Rick Snyder calls for a 15% increase to revenue sharing in his 2015 fiscal year budget, but the plan does not address the state's broken municipal finance system.

The following statement is from Utica Mayor and Michigan Municipal League President Jacqueline Noonan regarding Gov. Rick Snyder’s state budget recommendations announced today (Wednesday, February 5, 2014):

“We appreciate the Governor recommending a 15 percent increase in statutory revenue sharing. We are hopeful that this proposal is an indication that the Governor and Legislature recognize they must stop their annual disinvestment in local communities, and that they understand Michigan will not prosper again until we have local places where people want to live, work and thrive. It is a big step symbolically, but we have a long way to go. While it will mean about $36 million more for local communities, the Legislature and Governor have cut local funding by $6 billion since the late 1990s. Restoring a fraction of lost funding is not cause for jubilation from Main Street, Michigan, and it does not address our broken municipal finance system.

“In addition the Governor’s budget does not call for a real increase in transportation funding. In order for Michigan to be competitive it is imperative that we fix our crumbling roads and bridges and create a real public transit system for our state. Investment in Michigan’s communities, including transportation, is critical for the state to thrive. We are in a global competition for jobs and talent, and failing to invest infrastructure and communities means this is competition we will lose.

“To move Michigan forward, the League, along with numerous partners, has developed a policy vision and plan for Michigan’s cities called the Partnership for Place: An Agenda for a Competitive 21st Century Michigan. You can view this policy agenda here: www.mml.org/advocacy/partnership-for-place.html.”

League’s Samantha Harkins on Crain’s List of People in Politics to Watch in 2014

The League's Samantha Harkins gets interviewed by a TV news reporter.

Congratulations are in order for Samantha Harkins, the Michigan Municipal League’s Director of State Affairs, for being included on Crain’s Detroit Business list of Top Ten People to Watch in State Politics in 2014.

As the league’s chief lobbyist, she is an important force representing Michigan’s communities in Lansing. She told Crain’s one of her goals this year is changing the law phasing out the state’s personal property tax for business to guarantee complete reimbursement to communities of lost revenue from the tax. As written, the law provides 80 percent.

Samantha is on the list with numerous other well-known Michigan politicians and key political figures, including Lt. Gov. Brian Calley; Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, chair of the state House Transportation Committee; state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor; Cindy Estrada, United Auto Workers vice president; Emily Dievendorf, managing director at Equality Michigan; Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk; Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township; Lon Johnson, of the Michigan Democratic Party; and Ann Flood, Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

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

League President Jacqueline Noonan Issues Media Statement on Detroit Bankruptcy Court Ruling

The Michigan Municipal League issued the following media statement regarding a U.S. Bankruptcy Court ruling Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in the city of Detroit bankruptcy case. The statement was by Utica Mayor and Michigan Municipal League President Jacqueline Noonan:

“The ruling is a stark reminder and affirmation of the critical need for the Legislature, Gov. Snyder, and local elected officials to work together to develop a policy plan and vision for the future of Michigan’s cities, where the vast majority of jobs and economic, cultural and educational activity occurs in our state. It is a reminder of the need to fix the state’s broken municipal finance system, under which the Legislature and governor have taken about $6 billion in funds that, by state law, were supposed to go to local governments as statutory revenue sharing, including to the city of Detroit. The Legislature, instead, kept the money to pay for state programs and services, according to a report by the highly respected, nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

“It’s worth noting that during the last decade state spending increased 26 percent, while local governments throughout Michigan struggled to pay bills and meet other financial obligations, and had to shed nearly 17 percent of all local government workers. Instead of balancing the state budget on the backs of local governments for the last 10-plus years, we need state government to embrace and advance policies that enable local communities to better manage our programs and services and become the types of places that can prosper once again, where educated, entrepreneurial people want to live, work and raise families.

“To move Michigan forward, the League, along with numerous partners, have developed a policy vision and plan for Michigan’s cities called the Partnership for Place: An Agenda for a Competitive 21st Century Michigan. You can view this policy agenda here: www.mml.org/advocacy/partnership-for-place.html.”

This statement was picked up by the Associated Press and posted in news sites throughout the nation, including Anchorage Alaska, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Detroit media outlets.

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

Urgent, Contact Your Michigan Lawmakers Today Opposing House Bill 4887 About Election Law

The Michigan Municipal League needs your help TODAY in opposing a bill that would further limit when you can place new millage questions on the ballot. This bill is a complete infringement on the control of local communities like yours. Please contact your state Representatives today and the lawmakers listed below who are members of the committee hearing this issue—the House Elections and Ethics Committee.

Time is of the essence because the committee is scheduled to have a hearing on this issue today (Nov. 12, 2013). Please contact them by phone and/or email today. The more local officials they hear from the better chance we have to get opposition to this bill. Go here to look up your state lawmakers.

Here are some additional details and talking points about this:

- Oppose House Bill 4887, sponsored by State Rep. Dan Lauwers. R-Brockway Township.

- What is it?: It would limit when new elections could be placed on the ballot. Specifically, this bill would only allow local municipalities to place new millages on the ballot for the August regular election date or the November regular election date (straight renewals can be done at any of the four election dates).

- Pros: The argument of the bill is there is greater voter turnout in the August and November elections so new millages should only be allowed to be voted on during those times. The introduced version of the legislation only allowed a millage to be placed on the ballot for the November General Election, but a substitute changing it to each August and November election was adopted.

- Cons and League position: This is a complete infringement on local control. Local municipalities should have the ability to decide when a new millage to be voted on by the voters is placed on the ballot.

- Talking points when calling your lawmakers: The state has cut funding to our local communities by $6 billion in the last decade in the form of reductions to revenue sharing/EVIP. Additionally, Proposal A and Headlee severely limit revenue increases at the local level. The cuts at the state level coupled with Proposal A and Headlee have left local communities to essentially fend for themselves, which means asking their residents to vote on millages to cover the cost of essential services, such as police and fire protection and road maintenance. Limiting the timeframe as to when they can ask the public to vote on millages further ties the hands of our local units of government to operate effectively.

- Please oppose HB 4887!

The League testified in opposition as did the Michigan Township Association and the Michigan Library Association. The school groups and the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks are opposed as well.
If you have any questions about this issue, please contact the League’s Nikki Brown at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

In addition to contacting your own lawmakers, please also contact these lawmakers who serve on the House Elections and Ethics Committee that are hearing this issue today:

Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R) Committee Chair, 86th District; 517-373-0846; LisaLyons@house.mi.gov
Kevin Cotter (R) Majority Vice-Chair, 99th District; 517-373-1789; KevinCotter@house.mi.gov
Kurt Heise (R) 20th District; 517-373-3816; KurtHeise@house.mi.gov
Mike Callton (R) 87th District; 517-373-0842; MikeCallton@house.mi.gov
Rick Outman (R) 70th District; 517-373-0834; RickOutman@house.mi.gov
Ken Yonker (R) 72nd District; 517-373-0840; KenYonker@house.mi.gov
Harold Haugh (D) Minority Vice-Chair, 22nd District; 517-373-0854; HaroldHaugh@house.mi.gov
Marilyn Lane (D) 31st District; 517-373-0159; MarilynLane@house.mi.gov
Andy Schor (D) 68th District; 517-373-0826; AndySchor@house.mi.gov

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

Michigan Municipal League Prosperity Agenda Radio Show Focuses on Partnership for Place Initiative

Larry Nielsen, Chad Livengood, Samantha Harkins, Steve Baker and Dan Gilmartin talk about the Partnership for Place on News/Talk 760 WJR.

The Michigan Municipal League has been saying for quite some time now that the state’s system for funding municipalities is a broken system.

Lawmakers and others have asked for our proposed solutions and we’ve recently answered those requests with the release of our Partnership for Place Agenda. This policy agenda proposes a commitment of action in partnership between the State and its municipalities that will facilitate Michigan’s economic growth and allow for the development of places to provide key services and amenities that contribute to a high quality of life.

It focuses on a more regional approach to service delivery, which would change the way services are provided, how resources are dedicated, and how systems are supported.

Approved by the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees in June of 2013, this policy agenda proposes actions that will re-establish a partnership for prosperity in four key areas: Funding the future; Michigan in Motion; Place for Talent; and Strength in Structure.

Read more about the agenda here and here.

Taping the Prosperity Agenda radio show in WJR studios in Detroit.

This Partnership for Place plan is so important that we dedicated the League’s October Prosperity Agenda Radio show to this topic. The radio show airs monthly on News/Talk 760 WJR. League CEO Dan Gilmartin hosts the show, which is co-sponsored by the League and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Dan’s media co-host for this month’s show is Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood. Show guests are the League’s Samantha Harkins, Paw Paw Village Manager Larry Nielsen and Berkley Councilmember and League Board Member Steve Baker.

While the radio show is set to air 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, you can listen to it now at the League’s website here or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. View additional photos from the show taping here in this set on the League’s flickr page.

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

Michigan Municipal League CEO Dan Gilmartin to Present at National Press Club in Washington D.C.

Dan Gilmartin discusses municipal finances in Detroit in September, 2013. He's speaking at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Oct. 10. Watch it live from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at www.NLC.org.


Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin will speak to the National Press Club Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, along with others in a presentation about the fiscal conditions of U.S. cities.

Gilmartin will speak at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. during an event in which the National League of Cities will release a report on the City Fiscal Conditions in 2013. This is the NLC’s annual report that discusses the state of cities’ finances, including revenue and spending trends from 2012 to 2013.

Gilmartin will address the fiscal challenges facing Michigan’s cities, including Detroit, and how new public policies are needed to repair the state’s broken municipal finance system, attract and retain talent, and end decades of disinvestment in our urban areas.

Others speaking at the event are Clarence Anthony, Executive Director, NLC; Christiana McFarland, Interim Director, City Solutions and Applied Research, NLC; Michael Pagano, Dean, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, University of Illinois Chicago; Jim Spiotto, Partner, Chapman and Cutler LLP; and The Honorable Ron Greene, Controller, City of Houston, Texas.

This event is a great opportunity for the Michigan Municipal League to speak on a national scale about the challenges facing Michigan communities and communities throughout the U.S. There will be a live stream of the event 9:30-10:30 a.m. available for viewing at www.NLC.org.

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