League Members, Board President Bolen Hear from President Obama at NLC Conference

League members hear President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. Monday morning.

League members hear President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. Monday morning. Photo credit: C-SPAN.

Michigan Municipal League President Dick Bolen led a Michigan contingent to Washington D.C. this week to attend the 50th Annual National League of Cities (NLC) Congressional City Conference.  The group had the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama talk Monday morning.

The President’s speech was live streamed by the White House and C-SPAN. You can watch it here.

Bolen, Mayor Pro Tem of Wakefield, and several other Michigan Municipal League members are among more than 2,000 community leaders from throughout the nation to attend the conference this week. The officials will meet with their congressional leaders, attend education sessions and network with officials from other state Leagues and cities.

The focus of this year’s NLC conference is federal priorities and issues facing cities and towns across the country.

Also during the conference, Dan Gilmartin, League CEO and executive director, was named to the NLC’s 2016 Presidential Election Task Force. Gilmartin was one of 17 officials from throughout the nation to serve on the task force, said NLC Board Member Patricia Lockwood, Fenton Mayor Pro Tem. View a press release about this appointment here.

Go here for other conference highlights.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Michigan Municipal League’s Partnership for Place Agenda Presented to State Lawmakers

Samantha Harkins discusses the League's Partnership for Place legislative agenda today in Lansing.

Michigan Municipal League staff members met with key state lawmakers today in Lansing about the League’s new proactive legislative agenda, called the Partnership for Place. You can check out the agenda here.

The League is hosting three free webinars for League members about the Partnership for Place agenda 10-11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, and again on Thursday, Aug. 22, and Thursday, Aug. 29. Sign up for any of the one-hour sessions here.

This Partnership for Place legislative agenda is baseed around the belief that thriving communities are key to Michigan’s long-term success and sustainability. The agenda is a commitment of action in partnership between the State and its municipalities to 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.

The proposed actions called for in the agenda focus on funding, transportation, talent retention, and infrastructure and development. Read the Partnership for Place Agenda.

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

New MSU Report Proposes Solution to Abandoned Private Property Problems

Michigan State University has released a report suggesting ways to help deal with certain blighted, abandoned private property. In the report they suggest performance bonds, or something similar, that could be used to help with the tear down after certain commercial or industrial developments are no longer in use. They provide examples of other industries that use this mechanism as a way for the public to avoid bearing the cost of the end of the life cycle of these private sector developments. League CEO, Dan Gilmartin was quoted in the press release on the topic, saying this type of creative thinking is just what we need to help us solve themany issues that come with blighted abandonded parcels in our communities. The press release can be read here. The report can be found in the link below.

Private Property Abandonment _Full Report_6-25

Michigan Municipal Leaders Seek PPT Fixes, Increases to Revenue Sharing

Durand Mayor Deb Doyle, Linden Mayor David Lossing and East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett lay out the League’s legislative priorities during a media roundtable event March 18, 2013 in Lansing. (View the full press release here. View more photos here.)

LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan Municipal League and local leaders held a press conference today calling for action from the state on issues crucial to the future prosperity of Michigan’s cities, villages and urban townships. Topping the list are transportation funding, critical problems with the recently passed personal property tax legisation, and the ongoing pattern of revenue sharing cuts that continue to gut local coffers and make it increasingly difficult to provide the local services that Michigan citizens expect in their communities. Read the press release

Michigan Municipal League President David Lossing, mayor of Linden, led the media roundtable event Monday at the League’s Lansing office. Also speaking were East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett, a member of the League board; Durand Mayor Deb Doyle, past president of the League; Samantha Harkins, director of State Affairs, and League CEO Daniel Gilmartin.

About 10 media outlets attended, including reporters from the Associated Press, mlive.com, Detroit News, Michigan Public Radio, TV 6 and TV 10; MIRS and Gongwer news services; and Lansing City Pulse. In addition, the Lansing State Journal wrote an editorial related to this issue, and WKAR public radio show, Current State with Mark Bashore, interviewed Lossing and Gilmartin Monday morning. You can listen to that here.

“While the problems facing Michigan’s communities is the result of many factors, it is still a fact that the state government, legislatures and governors alike, have cut revenue sharing for local municipalities by more than $4.2 billion over the past dozen years,” Lossing stated in a press release distributed at the event. “It is a fact that the state government has taken those funds and used them to solve problems in the state budget or to pay for state programs and policies. And it is a fact that those cuts have contributed to thousands of local police officers and firefighters losing their jobs, reductions in road and bridge repairs, massive cuts to local parks and libraries, and much more. Michigan cities have been largely pushed aside by our state government for far too long, and anything short of an increase in statutory revenue sharing is not good enough.”

Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed no funding increases for statutory revenue sharing in his 2014 state budget, despite the massive cuts made to revenue sharing funding over the past decade.

In addition, legislation passed in December – on the final day of the last state Legislature session – would cut another stable source of local funding for local communities — the business personal property tax (PPT). This legislation would cut local community funding up to 20 percent in many communities, assuming Michigan voters approve a ballot question authorizing the PPT law to take effect. The Legislature still has not voted to put the PPT law on the August 2014 statewide primary ballot.

Daniel Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, said the PPT legislation passed in December created “several outstanding issues” that must be resolved.

“We delivered a letter to the Lieutenant Governor outlining the issues in the PPT bills that must be resolved, and we were told they would be resolved,” Gilmartin said. “It is essential that those issues be fixed, and anything short of that is not good enough. If they are not resolved, replacement funding to local communities would be threatened to the point of potentially causing irreparable and permanent fiscal damage to literally dozens or hundreds of Michigan cities.”

Samantha Harkins, director of state affairs for the League, said Michigan cities are also concerned about the transportation funding proposals being considered by the Governor and Legislature. While the League supports a substantial increase in investments for transportation infrastructure and transit, any proposal that fails to increase funding to specifically address local infrastructure needs will not be good enough.

“Anyone who travels our local roads and state highways knows that Michigan’s transportation system and infrastructure are in deplorable shape and in desperate need of a major reinvestment,” said East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett. “The state must provide a level of funding that adequately addresses local transportation system needs. Inaction is not an option.”

Other officials attending the event were Meridian Township officials Julie Brixie, and Milton Scales; East Lansing Councilmember Kathy Boyle, Caro Councilmember Joseph Greene; Gladwin Mayor Thomas Winarski; Grand Blanc Mayor Susan Soderstrom; Grand Haven Councilmember Robert Monetza; Huntington Woods Mayor Ron Gillham; Ithaca Councilmember L.D. Hollenbeck;  and Quincy Village Manager Eric Zuzga.

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 from about 10 different outlets attend the Michigan Municipal League’s media roundtable event Monday in Lansing. (View the full press release here. View more photos here.)

Personal Property Tax Changes Concerns Many Michigan Municipal Officials

Planned changes to the state’s personal property tax have many Michigan Municipal League member communities concerned, as reflected in recent articles posted this week. Mlive.com out of Jackson and the Observer & Eccentric out of Northville each posted stories recently outlining community leader concerns over the financial impact from proposed changes to Michigan’s personal property tax.

Here is part of what Albion City Manager Dan Bishop was quoted as saying on mlive.com: “Starting next year the personal property tax law will change so that businesses with less than $40,000 in assets will not pay the tax by fiscal year 2014. The tax will be phased out in anywhere from five to seven years. It’s a target that keeps moving.”

Under the headline “State lawmakers get earful from Northville, Plymouth leaders on elimination of personal property tax” here is a portion of the O&E article:

“Northville faces an estimated 2014 loss of $59,113 while Plymouth stands to lose $38,580 in PPT revenue, officials said. Those figures are net of state replacement money (which does not apply in Northville because of the PPT’s small effect on the overall tax base) and money from local assessments, subject to local votes, designed to replace PPT money that goes toward public safety purposes. We are really concerned when we see these numbers — you know in our situation 97 percent of the loss is going to be lost to the city under the current setup,” Northville Mayor Chris Johnson told State Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth Township, and state Sens. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Township, and Mike Kowall, R-White Lake Township, at the meeting. Northville has 429 parcels out of 471 being impacted by the change, which is about 91 percent of the businesses. This is a net loss of 97 percent of the revenue the tax generates.”

League staff is well aware of the concerns our members have over these proposed changes and continue to work with lawmakers on the issues. Stay tuned to this Inside 208 blog by Michigan Municipal League staff for regular updates on this topic.

To help calculate a the impact of the new personal property tax reform on our communities, the Michigan Department of Treasury has put together a spreadsheet that you can find here: PPT Plan Local Unit Worksheet 12 17 12.xls (40.50 kb).

For further reading check out recent Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press editorials about the uncertain future of municipal finances.

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

Municipal Officials Learn About Placemaking, Legislative Issues at Seminar

(View photos from the event here).

Municipal managers from throughout Michigan were in Rochester this week (Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2013) for the 2013 Michigan Local Government Management Association (MLGMA) Winter Institute.

The theme of this year’s event was communication and city, village, county and township officials attended a variety of sessions on leadership, placemaking strategies, the latest political issues in Lansing, innovation, social media, labor law, the Freedom of Information Act, emergency management, motivating staff and much more. Michigan Municipal League’s Samantha Harkins gave the officials an update on the personal property tax issues and the League’s Summer Minnick and Arnold Weinfeld led a session about the latest legislation impacting municipalities.

Other keynote speakers included Rochester Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Cuthbertson, Dennis Mannion, president and CEO of the Palace of Auburn Hills & Detroit Pistons, Tom Daldin and Jim Edleman, creators of Under the Radar Michigan on PBS television, Brian Glowiak, director of civic relations and community engagement for Chrysler and Vice President of The Chrysler Foundation; Greg Kampe, head basketball coach at Oakland University; and Tim Skubick, senior capitol correspondent and host of Off the Record. For more about MLGMA go to www.mlgma.org. MLGMA is an affiliate organization of the Michigan Municipal League. For more about the League and what we do go to mml.org.

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

Samantha Harkins talks about the personal property tax issue during the 2013 MLGMA Winter Institute in Rochester. For more photos from the event go here.