League Board Unanimously Supports Michigan Road Funding Ballot Proposal on May 5

League Vice President Nathan Triplett and President Dick Bolen listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state's road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to support the effort going before voters May 5.
League Vice President Nathan Triplett and President Dick Bolen listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state’s road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to support the effort going before voters May 5.

The Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees met with Governor Snyder on Friday, January 23, and following that discussion unanimously agreed to support the May 5 ballot proposal. The Board of Trustee believes that this proposal to support Michigan’s roads, schools and cities, is in the best interest of Michigan’s communities. The League will be taking an active role as an organization to help ensure its passage.

Support for the May 5th ballot proposal was based on the following factors:

  • The proposal provides for a sustainable long-term investment in Michigan’s infrastructure that includes $1.2 billion for roads and bridges, and more than $100 million for transit on an annual basis.
  • The proposal would also increase constitutional revenue sharing by more than $100 million annually.
  • Combined, this investment in Michigan’s transportation network and communities represents a significant step forward in building attractive and vibrant places.
Members of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state's road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to unanimously support the effort going before voters May 5.

Members of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state’s road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to unanimously support the effort going before voters May 5.

In the coming weeks the League will be working with other supporters help develop and implement a “Yes” campaign for Proposal 1.

Stay tuned for specifics ways your community can get involved and for information on the specific fiscal impact to each municipality.

Go here for additional photos from Friday’s board meeting featuring Governor Snyder.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

League’s John LaMacchia Participates in Road Funding Bill Signing with Governor Snyder

The League's John LaMacchia (left) attends the road funding bill signing Monday.

The League’s John LaMacchia (left) attends the road funding bill signing Monday.

The Michigan Municipal League’s John LaMacchia II was among the dignitaries invited to the official signing of the road funding package approved by the Legislature last month. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills during an event in Lansing Monday afternoon.

Late in December, the House and Senate put together the framework for a comprehensive long-term solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure. Although the Michigan Municipal League would have liked the Legislature to solve this problem independently, they approved a ballot proposal that will be put before the voters in May 2015. Read the lame duck recaps on Inside 208, the League’s legislative blog.

Read this blog for details on the road funding package.

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

Problematic Rental Inspection Legislation Dies in the House

On the final day of session Senate Bill 313, sponsored by Senator Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc), was unable to secure final passage on the House floor.

This bill would would have lowered revenues rental inspection programs are able to collect and provide additional barriers to entry when attempting to inspect a tenants property.The League fully anticipate this legislation coming up again next year.

Thank to all of our members who reached out to their legislator explaining to them the harmful implications of this bill. You were the number one reason this bill was able to be stopped and your continued opposition to any future legislation that would have a similar affect will be needed to ensure we are able to provide a healthy and safe environment for the residents of our communities.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

FOIA Legislation Passes on Final Day

On the final day of session, the legislature  passed HB 4001, a bill that makes numerous changes to the FOIA law, making it more costly to comply and more punitive for local units of government if a mistake is made. The bill passed in bipartisan fashion.

While we recognize this version is vastly improved from the introduced version, we still had concerns at the end of the day and remained opposed.

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

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.

 

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 Takes Testimony on Provisions of Certain Utility Service Contracts

Senate Local Government Committee took testimony yesterday on SB 687 sponsored by Senator Darwin Booher (R-Evart). This bill would regulate the provision of utility services (water, sanitary sewers, wastewater treatment, or electricity) provided by certain municipalities to other municipalities. It would prohibit a municipality providing utility service to another municipality from terminating the service, or refusing to renew the existing contract for the service, for any reason other than a lack of physical ability to continue providing that service.

This bill was introduced because of a situation in Senator Booher’s district involving the City of Cadillac and 4 surrounding townships. Cadillac City Manager Marcus Peccia did a terrific job testifying on behalf of the League. He expressed not only the concerns of Cadillac and their specific situation, but also the statewide implications this legislation could have.

The main concerns about this legislation include that it effectively voids any end date or termination clause in a contract our communities may have with a surrounding municipality because this bill would not allow that contract to be terminated and offers guaranteed renewal. Voiding a contracts expiration date does not promote good faith negotiations between parties. Rather, it provides an incentive for the non-providing community not to accept terms of a new contract that may include a higher rate for service because service must continue. Finally, this bill would have a significant impact on future collaboration efforts between communities because of the lack of certainty that would happen at the end of an expiring contract.

The League is opposed to this legislation and is very concerned about the impact of this legislation statewide.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

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.

FOIA Bill Passes Out of House Committee

The House Oversight committee passed out HB 4001, the bill making many changes to FOIA. The substitute that was adopted can be viewed here: HB 4001 H-2.  While the substitute has improved from the introduced version, the League still has concerns and is opposed to this legislation.  The League along with two attorneys for the city of Ann Arbor were prepared to offer testimony with our concerns but the bill was passed out of committee with no testimony taken.

We do appreciate the opportunity we had to be involved in the workgroup held early in July and are pleased to see there is now an internal appeal process that must be exhausted (if the municipality offers an internal process) prior to commencing an action in the courts to try and resolve any disputes.  Additionally, we do appreciate the time and labor calculations are now to be made on a total sum basis instead of individually broken out into the multiple new invoice categories as in a previous version.

However, Governmental entities are still not able to recover the true cost of the FOIA request, one of our existing concerns with the legislation.  The legislation specifically states benefits are not to be used in calculating the cost of FOIA.  Medical insurance and other benefits are a large portion of a person’s hourly labor cost.  Local municipalities do not stop providing an employee’s benefits while they are working on these requests.  Not being allowed to recover the true cost means every other tax payer in the municipality is now subsidizing the request.  Additionally, the language still states that all partial time increments when calculating labor costs must be rounded down, again, not allowing for the true cost of the request to be recovered.

Rep. Jim Townsend offered up a handful of amendments, two of them (clarification pieces) were accepted.  One that he offered would have allowed a municipality to include benefits when calculating the labor charges but that was voted down.

The League will continue, with the help from the municipal attorneys who have been so gracious in providing their feedback and assistance on this, to work on this issue to make sure as many of our concerns are addressed as possible.

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.

Bill Allowing Communities to Combine Election Activities Passes House Committee

A bill to allow local communities to enter into written agreements with other local governmental units for election activities passed the House Ethics and Election Committee.  HB 4878 would allow a city or township clerk to enter into a written contract with the county or another city or township to handle election administration duties such as handling absent voter ballot applications/ballots and processing voter registrations and maintenance of the qualified voter file.  Two communities (city or township) could also enter into a contract to prepare and conduct election day operations.  The governing body of each of the participating units would have to approve the action by resolution in order for the written agreement to be entered into.  A local unit can terminate this agreement with 60 days written notice to the other participating party.

This legislation also allows a local governmental unit to approve the bureau of elections or a county, city or township to handle an election if the office of the clerk becomes vacant in close proximity to an election.

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