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.

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Federal Workforce Bill

The Senate passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, H.R. 803 by a margin of 95-3, sending the bill back to the House for action as soon as the next week. WIOA reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 by retaining many positive aspects of the program, while updating and streamlining others in a positive way.

The bill maintains and enhances the role of local elected officials in their local workforce development programs and guarantees funding for the program for the next six years. In addition, the new components ensure the effectiveness of local one stop centers, by requiring a full range of partner organizations to locate in the one stop including unemployment insurance, veteran’s employment, adult education, welfare and other services. It also allows for the creation of regional workforce development areas based on labor markets rather than political jurisdictions, but only with the agreement of local elected officials.

Both Senators Stabenow and Levin supported the bill. The League will keep you updated on action on this issue in the House.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

 

 

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.

Michigan Downtown Association to hold Workshop February 27

The Michigan Downtown Association’s (MDA) first workshop of 2014, “DDA’s – One of the Original Placemakers – Controlling Our Own Destiny,” is on Feb. 27 at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing.  MDA members may begin reserving rooms at the Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol for a special rate of $118.95. Overnight parking is only $5. Visit http://www.radisson.com/lansing-hotel-mi-48933/lansing or call 517.482.0188 and mention group code 1402MIDOAS.

For questions or more information, contact the MDA at info@michigandowntowns.com or call 248-838-9711.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Historic Preservation Legislation Continues Forward

SBs 21 and 22, bills dealing with historic preservation of DDA owned properties, passed out of committee last week.  The bills require a DDA to submit proposed changes to the exterior of a DDA owned historic property that is on either the State Register of Historic Sites or the National Register of Historic Places to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for a review.

In cases that deal with proposed demolition of those properties, a requirement that the DDA seek a review and approval from SHPO.  SHPO has 30 days to review and approve or deny the proposed demolition.  If there is a denial, the DDA may appeal the decision of SHPO.  If a DDA decides they are going to bypass this approval/denial process, there is a $30,000 civil fine attached.  That fine goes into a fund for grants that the local municipality can turn to for historic preservation purposes.

There was concern that SHPO is short staffed as it is and they would not be able to keep up with this additional work load.  Because of that, there is a 5 year sunset so it can be re-evaluated to see its effectiveness.

Both the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Michigan Historic Preservation Network are supportive of this legislation.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development legislation.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Tenant Responsibility Legislation Receives Hearing

HB 5037, a bill to require local inspectors hold tenants responsible for violations that occur in the area that is under their control received a hearing in the House Local Government committee last week.  This legislation would also state that liens and other sanctions shall not be added onto the property for those violations that occur in the area that is under the tenant’s control.  The League testified in opposition to this piece of legislation along with municipal officials from Fenton, East Lansing and Jackson.  We look forward to working with the sponsor of the bill and his staff to provide feedback on any potential amendments as the process moves forward.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

National Brownfield Association Nov 13 Event Registration Now Open

On November 13, 2013, the Michigan Chapter of the National Brownfield Association is presenting a program on the newest developments on brownfield issues in Michigan. The program will be held at the Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933.

Program speakers will include representatives of both the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Environmental Quality. The presenters will discuss proposed legislative and policy developments that affect the CRP program and Act 381; new MDEQ policies on grants and loans; MDEQ guidelines and anticipated developments on vapor intrusion; ASTM standards on continuing obligations and Phase I ESAs; environmental insurance products used in Michigan transactions; legislative and other policy updates under Part 201, including NFAs and certificates of completion; and an update from the RACER Trust.

There will also be a case study that describes the successful use of brownfield tools in Michigan for the Accident Fund project in Lansing and the Downtown Market project in Grand Rapids. Finally, the Chair of the Board of the National Brownfield Association will provide an update on activities at the national level.

A complete agenda can be found here. Registration is $50 for NBA members, $125 for non-members, and $75 for non-members who are government employees. Registration space is limited to the first 100 who register. The program will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on November 13, with registration commencing at 8:00 a.m. Additional information regarding registration can be found here.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Package of Bills Dealing with “Squatters” Taken Up In House Committee

A package of bills to assist in dealing with “squatting,” a growing problem throughout the state, was taken up in the House Criminal Justice committee for testimony only.  HB 5069, 5070 and 5071 would collectively make it a felony for a squatter to occupy a home with an SEV of $50,000 or more for a one family home or $100,000 or more for a two family home and relieve the landlord from damage liability for unlawful interference when dealing with a squatter.  The sponsor (Rep. Kurt Heise, Plymouth) stressed this was in no way trying to give landlords more power in evicting tenants.  This was to deal with squatters only, those who take up residents in a location without a lease, title, etc.

Committee members had concerns with the SEV threshold and many felt that should be eliminate; squatting is squatting regardless of the SEV. Additionally, there was some concern regarding this being a felony.

This package of legislation is scheduled for another committee hearing this week.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.