Contact Michigan Senators Today to Urge Their Support of Transportation Funding Increase

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

Discussions are currently taking place in Lansing on finding a way to raise new revenue for Michigan’s transportation network during the current lame duck legislative session.

House Bill 5477 is a key piece to this new revenue.

It would switch the current cents per gallon tax on fuel to a percentage based tax on the wholesale price and gradually increase that percentage over the next several years.

The proposed funding solution is a nine-bill package that would provide yearly increases to transportation funding and would reach $1.5 billion in new annual revenue by 2020.

Legislators have an incredible opportunity to solve Michigan’s transportation needs and develop a comprehensive solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure.

Michigan can no longer wait for a comprehensive transportation funding plan.

Michigan can no longer wait for a comprehensive transportation funding plan.

This plan would not only invest in roads and bridges, but would provide additional funds for public transit, trails, ports, and rail. Download the Michigan Can’t Wait flyer.

The Senate could take this up for a vote as soon as Thursday (Nov. 13, 2014) and we need your help. Please contact your Senator and let them know that you are supportive of increasing transportation revenue and the positive impact it will have on your community. We are on the verge transforming our transportation system and you can help ensure its successful passage.

To make it as easy as possible for you, we’ve drafted a sample email that you can edit and send to your senators.

To access this tool, go to our action center here and click on the item in the blue Action Alert! box.

A comprehensive transportation funding system is one of the four key parts of the Michigan Municipal League’s Partnership for Place initiative released in 2013. Read more about why this is important here.

This blog post was by John LaMacchia II, legislative associate for the Michigan Municipal League. John can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org and 517-908-0303.

Bad News: Public Act 54 Amendment Likely to Pass Senate This Week

House Bill 5097 is on the Michigan Senate agenda for this week, and it will likely pass overwhelmingly. The governor is supportive and is expected to sign this legislation. The Michigan Municipal League needs your help and requests that you contact your state senators today demanding they VOTE NO on HB 5097. This is a bill that would exempt police and fire from Public Act 54 so that they can have retroactive pay increases after a contract expires.

The Senate has already passed a similar bill, and the governor’s office has been pushing for this legislation to pass. This bill undoes the most effective reform passed by the Legislature in 2011.

The Michigan Municipal League strongly opposes this bill due to the detrimental financial implications for our communities. It’s highly important that you contact your senators now as a vote is expected as early as this morning. We’re out of time for emails, so please call your lawmakers this morning. Get the phone number for your senators here. Please call them even if you contacted them earlier this year on this issue.

Background: In 2011 the legislature passed a number of reforms to help employers control costs and be better stewards of taxpayer resources. One of the, if not the, most significant reform was to prohibit retroactive pay increases after a contract has expired. This game changing statute, PA 54 of 2011, has helped communities settle contracts more quickly and provides more certainty in municipal budgets. Passage of HB 5097 would be detrimental to our ability to settle contracts quickly and efficiently. Now public safety groups pushing this bill argue that the number of Public Act 312 filings would proliferate and the legislature only intended this bill to impact teachers.

HOWEVER, according to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission there were only 43 PA 312 filings in 2013 as opposed to 69 in 2011. PA 312 filings are significantly lower than they were before enactment of PA 54. In addition, even if the legislature only intended this for teachers, it has been a game changer for municipal budgets, and it’s critical that we keep this tool to allow local units the opportunity to settle contracts expeditiously and save taxpayers money.

Talking points: Here are a few bullet items to follow when contacting your state Senators:

  • Please oppose HB 5097
  • You’re trying to fix something that’s not broken
  • Passing this legislation results in eliminating the most effective labor reform passed in 2011 and is inconsistent with all of the reforms passed including PA 152 and PA 312 reforms.
  • Maybe this was intended just for teachers, but it’s helped cities tremendously
  • The state has cut more than $6 billion in revenue sharing to communities in the last decade so we need every dollar we can get to provide the essential services our residents expect
  • So can I count on your NO vote?

If you have additional questions please contact Samantha Harkins, is director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, at sharkins@mml.org or 517-908-0306.

Please Contact U.S. Sens Levin and Stabenow TODAY to Support Marketplace & Internet Tax Act

shutterstock_us-capitol-washington-small-for-web-croppedThe Michigan Municipal League encourages you to contact U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow TODAY to urge their support of the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act. At stake is more than a half billion dollars that could have a significant impact on Michigan communities.

Here are details from the National League of Cities: The NLC asks Michigan municipal officials to contact Senators Levin and Stabenow TODAY to urge their support of S. 2609. Without this bill, Michigan is expected to lose $650 million in remote sales (mainly internet sales) in fiscal year 2014, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. But if this bill is approved, even with likely exemptions for small sellers, the Michigan treasury department estimates that our state would gain $450 million to $500 million. This amount would presumably increase each year. This additional revenue could have a profound impact on state revenue sharing to local units and other programs that impact municipalities.

Please contact Senators Levin and Stabenow today. A quick phone call from you would be most effective. Senator Levin’s number is (202) 224-6221; Senator Stabenow’s is (202) 224-4822. After reaching out to them, please contact NLC at advocacy@nlc.org to let them know how the conversation went.

Here is some additional information from NLC about this issue:

Tell Your Senators: Support the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act

Before Congress adjourned for its August recess, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act (MITFA), S. 2609. MITFA combines a major priority for NLC – leveling the playing field for online and brick-and-mortar retailers – with a temporary extension of the current moratorium on internet access taxes.

According to reports, the Senate may consider this legislation as early as September, so we need you to contact your Senators now to ask them to co-sponsor and support passage of MITFA.

With most Senators returning to their home states this month, and the potential for a vote on MITFA in September, now is the time to meet with your Senators. If your Senator is not already a co-sponsor of the legislation, contact them and urge them to co-sponsor and support passage of the legislation. If your Senator is already a sponsor, please call and thank them for their support.

Call or visit your Senators, and ask them to co-sponsor and support passage of MITFA. Let them know the legislation:

  • Is good for local retailers and creates a level playing field. Main Street retailers currently operate at a 5-10 percent disadvantage because they are required to collect sales taxes while remote sellers are not.
  • Is not a new tax. The Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act simply allows states and local governments to enforce existing sales tax laws. The bill does not create new taxes or increase existing ones.
  • Is good for our residents and communities. By allowing local governments to collect an estimated $23 billion in uncollected sales taxes on remote sales that are already owed, cities can better provide services to residents at no cost to the federal government.
  • Allows Congress the flexibility to respond to the changing communications services industry by recognizing the moratorium on Internet access taxes should not be made permanent in the midst of enormous technological changes.

Please, call your Senators now or schedule a meeting. Click here to tell us how the conversation went, or email advocacy@nlc.org.

For more information, contact Julia Pulidindi, Principal Associate for Federal Advocacy, at pulidindi@nlc.org or 202.626.3176, or Priya Ghosh, Principal Associate for Federal Advocacy, at ghosh@nlc.org or 202.626.3015.

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 Cities, Villages Highly Successful in Getting Voter Approval on New Local Tax Proposals, Renewals

i voted logoMichigan voters continued to show their support for cities and villages on election day. There were nearly 40 tax-related requests on Tuesday’s primary election ballot from Michigan cities and villages and all but two were successful, according to a report by MIRS News Service.

This is consistent with other recent election results and the trend that people will overwhelming support tax increases for services they value, such as roads, libraries, senior services, police and fire protection and public transit, said Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin.

“These results show that voters will support tax increases for services they want and expect in making their communities desirable places to live, work, and enjoy,” Gilmartin said. “However, there is an underlying trend that is concerning: These results also show that the state’s system for funding municipalities is broken and that local communities and local taxpayers must continually counter the disinvestment in cities and villages that state leaders continue to demonstrate.”

Specifically, Gilmartin points to a League study from earlier this year that showed between 2003 and 2013 Michigan governors and legislators diverted $6.2 billion in statutory revenue sharing from local communities to plug holes in the state budget. This, along with a dramatic decline in property tax revenues, has forced communities cut and streamline local services and to look at alternative funding sources, including, but not limited to, millage increases.

Due to this disinvestment in local communities, it was not surprising to learn from MIRS that there were 786 local ballot proposals before voters on Tuesday and 267 of those proposals asked for new money. About 80 percent of the proposals MIRS classified as new tax increases passed, while 99 percent of all proposals classified as tax renewals passed. You can view the full MIRS list here.

A large majority of the requests were from townships, schools, and counties. There were about 38 tax-related requests on the ballot specific to Michigan cities and villages, plus at least four non-tax related charter amendments (all passed). Of those 38 requests, 36 passed and just two failed, according a League review of the MIRS report and in looking at other news articles about the unofficial election results.

Many of the new asks were road related and passed with nearly a 90 percent success rate. This is not surprising given the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and lack of consensus on a long-term road funding solution in Lansing. The Michigan Municipal League, in its Partnership for Place Agenda initiative, has suggested a variety of possible solutions to address the state’s transportation needs and other municipal funding concerns. You can view this agenda here.

“While voters have constantly shown support for local taxes that provide value and improve quality of life, there remains an underlying belief in Lansing that the citizens of Michigan will not support such efforts statewide,” Gilmartin said. “This election further proves that individuals care about their local communities and expanding investment in Michigan’s transportation network would be a great place for the Legislature to follow the lead of the constituents they represent.”

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

Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Proposal 1; HUGE Victory for Michigan Communities!

The League was part of the coalition for Michigan Strong & Safe Communities, which actively supported Proposal 1.

The League was part of the coalition for Michigan Citizens for Strong & Safe Communities, which actively supported Proposal 1.

A huge thank you goes out to all the Michigan Municipal League member communities and supporters backing Proposal 1 on Tuesday’s primary ballot. The measure, which completes the plan to phase out personal property taxes that businesses pay, passed with 69 percent of the voters in support, according to preliminary results reported by mlive.com and the Detroit News with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

Proposal 1 represented a considerable amount of negotiations and work by League staff and our members. We thank our many members who have publicly supported this proposal by passing resolutions encouraging a YES vote, doing media interviews, participating in news events and writing letters to their local newspapers. Read this article by the League’s Samantha Harkins about this history of this issue and why the League supported this measure.

“What this really means for us is stability,” Harkins, the League’s director of state affairs, told reporter Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press for an article about Proposal 1’s passage.

Here’s an excerpt from a Michigan Public Radio piece by Jake Neher about voters approving Proposal 1. This report also includes comments by Harkins:

Communities depend on revenue from the tax to pay for things like police, fire, and roads. (Governor) Snyder says the proposal ensures they will be fully compensated for any lost revenue.

Local government groups say they agree. “I think, from the local government level, it really provides certainty for us in a way that the failure of Proposal 1 certainly would not have created that certainty,” said (Harkins). “And we’ve had a lot of uncertainty in the last decade.”

Also in the “good news for communities” category, MIRS News is reporting that 80 percent of the “new money asks” in local ballot proposals were approved by voters. That 80 percent passage rate is consistent with the results from the past several elections. Here’s a chart by MIRS that shows the local ballot proposal results by community.

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

Please VOTE YES on Proposal 1 in the August 5, 2014 Primary Election

Please vote in Tuesday’s Aug. 5, 2014, primary election. On your ballot you may have a lot of things or just a few things to consider, but one of the most important issues for Michigan’s communities is Proposal 1. The League is in support of Proposal 1 and encourages our members to vote YES on Proposal 1.

This proposal represents a considerable amount of negotiations and work by League staff and our members. We thank our many members who have publicly supported this proposal by passing resolutions encouraging a YES vote, doing media interviews, participating in news events and writing letters to their local newspapers. Read this article by the League’s Samantha Harkins about this history of this issue and why the League is in support of Proposal 1.

So what happens if Proposal 1 fails?

A new community impact calculator by the Strong and Safe Communities YESon1 shows the potential losses communities could sustain if Proposal 1 is defeated and the Legislature decides to eliminate the personal property tax without any funding replacement for local municipalities. All you need to do is go to the calculator and follow the step by step instructions to see the impact on your community. For example, in Flint, if Proposal 1 fails and the PPT is eliminated without replacement that is the equivalent funding of 54 police officers, or 71 firefighters, or 464,746 meals on wheels for seniors.

Here are some details from the Strong and Safe Communities coalition about this:

A “NO” Vote on Proposal 1 and failure to pass Proposal 1 would hurt Michigan communities and Michigan small businesses. It would mean:

  • Michigan communities lose by having to go back to depending on an unreliable revenue stream for essential services like fire, police, ambulances, jails, and schools – plus other valuable local community services, including senior centers, parks and libraries.
  • Michigan businesses lose by having to go back to paying the antiquated unfair double tax that keeps them from investing and creating jobs.
  • Many community leaders across the state fear that if Proposal 1 fails in August, the legislature could still eliminate the PPT, but not reimburse local communities for that lost revenue.

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

 

If Proposal 1 Fails Here’s How Much Your Community Could Lose

In just one week voters will decide the fate of Proposal 1, which eliminates the personal property tax (PPT) on businesses without raising taxes to residents. But what happens if Proposal 1 fails?

A new community impact calculator by the Strong and Safe Communities YESon1 shows the potential losses communities could sustain if Proposal 1 is defeated and the Legislature decides to eliminate the personal property tax without any funding replacement for local municipalities. All you need to do is go to the calculator and follow the step by step instructions to see the impact on your community. For example, in Flint, if Proposal 1 fails and the PPT is eliminated without replacement that is the equivalent funding of 54 police officers, or 71 firefighters, or 464,746 meals on wheels for seniors.

Here are some details from the Strong and Safe Communities coalition about this:

A “NO” Vote on Proposal 1 and failure to pass Proposal 1 would hurt Michigan communities and Michigan small businesses. It would mean:

  • Michigan communities lose by having to go back to depending on an unreliable revenue stream for essential services like fire, police, ambulances, jails, and schools – plus other valuable local community services, including senior centers, parks and libraries.
  • Michigan businesses lose by having to go back to paying the antiquated unfair double tax that keeps them from investing and creating jobs.
  • Many community leaders across the state fear that if Proposal 1 fails in August, the legislature could still eliminate the PPT, but not reimburse local communities for that lost revenue.

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

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

Detroit City Council MML Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Property Tax Reform

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some links to additional information about Proposal 1:

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

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

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

Michigan Communities Urge Residents to Vote YES on Proposal 1; Pass Resolutions in Support

Proposal 1 Press Conference Oakland County June 2014 Brooks Patterson Barry Brickner (16)-edited-smallMore than a dozen Michigan cities and villages have approved resolutions urging residents to vote YES on Proposal 1 Aug. 5. The Michigan Municipal League is part of the vote YES on Proposal 1 Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities coalition and is encouraging our member communities to adopt a resolution. The League is then sharing the resolutions with the local media and public and those press releases can be viewed here.

We want to thank these communities for passing resolutions in support of Proposal 1: Cedar Springs, Frankenmuth, Fremont, Grayling, Hartford, Madison Heights, Mattawan, Middleville, Mt. Pleasant, Northville, Norton Shores, Pleasant Ridge, Three Oaks, Walker and Yale. If your community is not on this list but passed a resolution please email me at mbach@mml.org. We also want to thank our many members who have participated in local press conferences and editorial board meetings in support of Proposal 1.

The passage of Proposal 1 on the Aug. 5 statewide primary ballot is the final step toward completing comprehensive reform to the state’s personal property tax (PPT) – an effort the Michigan Municipal League has been heavily involved in for the last few years.

Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner urges residents to vote YES on Proposal 1 during a recent Oakland County news conference.

Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner urges residents to vote YES on Proposal 1 during a recent Oakland County news conference.

The PPT is a tax on business equipment that communities have relied on for years to provide essential services, such as police and fire protection, schools, libraries, ambulances, jails and roads. The League has maintained that if this tax is eliminated there must be full replacement of the revenue for local governments. Proposal 1 provides the revenue replacement and it does so without raising taxes.

Additional information:

Go here for a sample resolution. It’s important to note that it is legal for local government bodies to approve resolutions in support of ballot issues as long as no public tax dollars are expended. So resolutions are OK.

Go here to sign up to support the coalition and receive regular campaign updates.

– Send a letter to your local newspaper in support of Proposal 1. View sample letters here.

Go here to view additional photos from the recent vote YES on Proposal 1 news conference in Oakland County.

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

A list of communities that have approved resolutions urging residents to vote YES on Proposal 1.

A list of communities that have approved resolutions urging residents to vote YES on Proposal 1.