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.

Please Write Letters to Your Local Newspaper in Support of Proposal 1, Personal Property Tax Reform

ppt-logo-2-dearbornThe letter writing phase of the Vote Yes on Proposal 1 campaign is now in full swing and the Michigan Municipal League has made it as easy as possible for you to send letters to the editor of your local newspapers. We’ve written four sample letters for you to choose from here in our Action Center. Just fill out the information and the Action Center will do the rest, including emailing the letter to your local paper.

Background: The League encourages Michigan communities to support Proposal 1 on the August 5, 2014 ballot. This is the proposal that completes the reform of the Personal Property Tax (PPT) and represents months of negotiations and work by the League on behalf of our member communities. This proposal does NOT RAISE TAXES, but it does provide a more stable revenue source for community services, such as police and fire protection, roads, schools, libraries and other essential programs.

The League, as part of the Michigan Strong & Safe Communities coalition, encourages all member communities to join us in endorsing this proposal. In addition to writing letters, please do these things:

1. Have your council/commission/board pass a resolution in support of Proposal 1. A sample resolution is available here. Check out the other communities that have already passed resolutions here. (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.) Send your approved resolutions to the League’s Matt Bach at mml.org and will share them with the media and the coalition.

2. Sign up to receive campaign email alerts at www.StrongAndSafeCommunities.com.

Again, we encourage our members to support the full replacement of PPT dollars with a significantly more stable reimbursement mechanism by voting “yes” on Proposal 1 on the August 5, 2014 ballot. If you have any questions about this ballot proposal please contact the League’s Samantha Harkins at sharkins@mml.org and (517) 908-0306.

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

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.”

Federal Government Making Changes to How Communities Deal with Volunteer Firefighters Under the ACA

Recently, several articles have appeared that reference a “glitch” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in which communities with more than 50 employees will be forced to provide coverage for volunteer firefighters. Since this came about, Treasury and the IRS have reviewed the information and just released a statement, saying they will be providing rules soon that addresses this unintended consequence. The release from Treasury can be found by clicking here.

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

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 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.

Affordable Care Act Local Government Toolkit Now Available

The US Department of Health and Human Services has just released a toolkit for local governments to understand and implement the Affordable Care Act.

The toolkit includes an overview of the Affordable Care Act, a sample outreach and enrollment plan that you can tailor for your community, frequently asked questions and answers, resources and information on training sessions, contacts for HHS regional offices and sample materials that can be used for newsletters, social media and public events.

You can find the toolkit by clicking here. Email the HHS Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at HHSIEA@hhs.gov with any questions.

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

Governor Snyder announces Regional Prosperity Initiative

The Governor Snyder administration has announced a new regional initiative. Dubbed “Regional Prosperity Initiative” the effort is meant to better coordinate service delivery and strengthen local economies through greater regional collaboration.

The initiative, first unveiled in the Governor’s 2014 budget request, is making $2.5 million through a competitive grant process for existing state-designated planning regions and Metropolitan Planning Organizations. The goal is to empower local and regional partners to develop a consensus vision and implementation plan for economic success.

According to a press release, all state government departments will begin serving 10 regions across the state, enhancing service delivery and encouraging communities to collaborate on a regional basis. The new regional map supports the governor’s vision that economic development must be viewed as a system that encompasses and coordinates talent and infrastructure along with traditional economic development strategies.

For more information visit www.michigan.gov/regionalprosperity

Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or at aweinfeld@mml.org