2017 METRO Maintenance Fee Sharing Payment

On June 14, 2017, the Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) issued the 2017 METRO Maintenance Fee-Sharing payments to cities, villages, and townships, as required by the Metropolitan Extension Telecommunications Rights-of-Way Oversight Act (METRO), 2002 PA 48.

Total amount to be distributed $24,580,726.72
   
25% allocation (Townships) $6,145,181.85
75% allocation (Cities & Villages) $18,435,544.87
Total $24,580,726.72

Specific municipality distribution amounts can be found at the following link. 2017 METRO Payment. Should you have any questions please contact the LCSA at (517)335-5448.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

PPT Equipment Exemption Deadline Moving

Senate Bill 359 was recently introduced in the Michigan Senate, proposing to extend the late February deadline for eligible manufacturing equipment to file for an exemption from personal property tax assessment.

The sponsor introduced this bill in an attempt to address a situation where a business within his district encountered postal issues mailing the requisite form to the local unit.  The hard deadline within the act does not allow for any exceptions, necessitating an amendment to the act to provide an extension of the deadline.  As reported from committee, SB 359 would mimic the extension that occurred in 2016, allowing businesses with eligible manufacturing personal property to file for the exemption on that property by May 31st of this year.

With Senate floor action expected this week, House action would be needed next week for the bill to get to the Governor and allow any time for businesses to actually file under this extension.  Such a narrow window will hopefully result in very few new filings and little disruption at the local level.

Treasury also testified that this extension will likely require the October local unit PPT reimbursement checks be delayed until November, similar to what took place last year. A separate bill is being introduced this week and will likely be voted on next week in Senate committee for this purpose.  The bill sponsor did commit, in his committee testimony, to work with MML and Treasury on a mechanism that could be added to the act to allow for local corrections to filing issues or mailing delays so that there will no longer be a need to amend the law for the whole state to address a correction in one community.  This discussion will likely occur later this spring, with legislation to follow.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

NLC Gears Up for Infrastructure Week 2017

Now in its fifth year, the National League of Cities (NLC) is once again participating in Infrastructure Week, May 15-19. Infrastructure Week is a national week of education and advocacy that brings together American businesses, workers, elected leaders, and everyday citizens around one message: It’s #TimeToBuild.

NLC will host several events during Infrastructure Week highlighting the need for Congress to directly invest in local infrastructure, including:

  • An infrastructure advocacy action. As NLC leaders and our allies converge on Capitol Hill, join us from home to tell Congress to invest in cities.
  • An event discussing resilient water management on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:00pm EDT. This event is hosted by NLC, the Value of Water Campaign, and World Resources Institute.
  • A panel discussion on the importance of local infrastructure investments at the National City-County Leadership Center on Wednesday, May 17 at 10:00am EDT. This event is hosted by NLC, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the US Conference of Mayors.
  • An event highlighting outstanding examples of infrastructure projects nationwide on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 17 at 2:00pm EDT. This event is hosted by the Big 7 state and local government associations.
  • An event discussing the importance of broadband in building smart communities at the National City-County Leadership Center on Thursday, May 18 at 2:00pm EDT. This event is hosted by NLC, NACo, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
  • A panel discussion on the current landscape of autonomous vehicle research and technology development at the National City-County Leadership Center on Friday, May 19 at 10:00am EDT. This event is hosted by NLC and the National Association of Regional Councils.

Visit www.nlc.org/InfrastructureWeek for more information on NLC’s activities or email your questions to advocacy@nlc.org.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

New Legislation Seeks to Eliminate Local Control in Zoning

Last week legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate to amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. The bills eliminate a local unit of government’s ability to regulate short-term rentals. House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 329, mirror each other in language, mandating all short-term rentals are a residential use of property and a permitted use in all residential zones. The League disagrees and believes short-term rentals operated as commercial business establishments are inconsistent with residential land use. 

In many places across the state, short-term rentals are taking over once vibrant residential neighborhoods and turning them in to areas transient in nature that go dark part of the year. This is having a detrimental impact on quality of life. An overabundance of short-term rentals can potentially remove affordable homes and housing units off the market leading to decreased enrollment in neighborhood schools. If enacted, this legislation will undo regulations municipalities have put in place to negate these negative impacts and prohibit other communities from regulating in the future. 

We need your help to stop this legislation! The Michigan Realtors Association assisted in writing the bills and are aggressively pushing for quick action. They have been contacting Representatives and Senators in an attempt to say municipalities are overstepping on private property rights, prohibiting property owners from maximizing the value of their property. We know this isn’t accurate, but need you to contact your State Representative and Senator today to urge their opposition for HB 4503 and SB 329! Even if short-term rentals are not an issue in your community, you should be very concerned about the impact of preempting local zoning efforts. If enacted, this legislation would set a dangerous precedent undermining decision-making at the local level. 

Also, please contact the committee chairs where the legislation has been referred urging them to not take up the bills. HB 4503 was referred to the House Committee on Tourism & Outdoor Recreation chaired by Representative Holly Hughes. SB 329 was referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Senator Dale Zorn.

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Proposed Ambulance Service Tax Raising Concerns Among Municipalities

A proposal adopted in early 2015 to draw down additional federal Medicaid match revenue to support increased ambulance reimbursements is proving to be a bigger challenge to implement than originally believed and is bringing out potential unintended consequences that could be devastating to communities with publicly-operated ambulance services.

House Bill 4447 became Public Act 104 in July of 2015.  This legislation, among numerous other things, provided the Department of Health and Human Services with authority to develop a Quality Assurance Assessment Program (QAAP) on ambulance services as a financing mechanism to draw down additional Medicaid match from the federal government.  This same financing scheme has been used within other health care industries as a way to improve reimbursement rates for providers without straining the state’s budget.

As originally proposed, this mechanism would have imposed a state tax on ambulance run revenues that the state would have used to improve reimbursement rates for Medicaid-eligible ambulance runs.  In gathering the data and developing the formula needed to arrive at an appropriate tax rate, however, the Department interpreted federal guidelines as requiring that ambulance service providers needed to submit all local government revenues related to providing ambulance services, not simply revenues accrued from ambulance runs.  With this interpretation in place, publicly-operated ambulance providers stand to bear a much larger burden of the proposed QAAP tax than the private ambulance providers who do not provide additional EMS or fire services.

Additionally, the complexity of dividing out costs related solely to ambulance services in communities with multiple tax revenues supporting their fire and EMS services and/or personnel serving multiple functions, including ambulance service, and applying a tax on top of those existing taxes is causing alarm bells to sound for many municipalities that operate their own ambulance services.

The League is participating in meetings with the Department, fire chiefs and other municipal fire personnel, and state legislators in an attempt to get a better understanding of the potential that this program could cause a negative financial impact on communities.  While increased Medicaid reimbursement rates are a laudable goal, they cannot come on the backs of municipalities.  Enough concerns have been raised that warrant this concept be re-evaluated before being implemented.

If your community provides municipal ambulance service, please contact our office to discuss this issue and the potential impact on your community.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

State Budget Process Set to Resume Following Spring Recess

Budget subcommittees in both the House and Senate were hard at work last week wrapping up much of the initial work on their respective appropriation responses to the Governor’s FY17-18 proposed budget.

Responding to requests for additional funding from the League and other local government groups, the House General Government subcommittee sent House Bill 4232 to the full House Appropriations committee recommending a $12.4 million increase to the statutory revenue sharing (CVTRS) line item.  For communities currently receiving a CVTRS payment, these additional dollars would be distributed on a per capita basis, equating to an additional $1.62396 per person.  If adopted as part of the final budget framework, this would be the first statutory revenue sharing increase in three years and a welcome increase in light of last year’s overall revenue sharing cut as sales tax revenue driving Constitutional payments fell below the previous year.

The League also had the opportunity to testify before the Senate General Government subcommittee, making a similar case for increased funding for revenue sharing.  While the Senate subcommittee has yet to complete their proposal, public comments from members of the subcommittee seem to indicate an interest in looking at options for a funding increase to this line.

Once subcommittee work is completed following the spring break, the full Appropriations committees in each chamber will begin their consideration of the various budget recommendations, followed by consideration from the full House and Senate, all before the mid-May consensus revenue estimating conference.  Final budget action is on track for completion in early June.

Please contact your State Representative and Senator and urge them to support an increase to statutory revenue sharing.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

Senate and House Take First Steps on Transportation Budget

This week the Senate Transportation Subcommittee passed SB 148 and the House Transportation Subcommittee passed HB 4242. Each of these bills appropriates just over $4.3 Billion in transportation revenue to MDOT, counties and cities and villages. Each of these budgets has a baseline appropriation of $491.2 million dedicated to cities and villages. This is an increase of $49.6 million over the current fiscal year.

SB 148 would create a grant based program that appropriates an additional $3.1 million to assist villages with a population under 2000 with resurfacing costs. Grants would be equal to 75% of an individual projects cost and could not exceed $250,000. The Transportation Asset Management Council would administer the grant program and would prioritize projects based on the greatest return on total infrastructure value.

HB 4242 would also dedicate addition resources to local roads by allocating $10 million from the Transportation Economic Development Fund and $2 million from the Local Agency Wetland Mitigation Fund. This would result in an additional $7.9 million for county road commissions and $4.1 million for cities and villages.

These bills are is still a work in progress. The budget is expected to be complete by June 1st so we are at the beginning not the end of the process. As the budget moves forward the differences between the two bill will need to be worked out. The League will continue to track these bills and provide you with ongoing updates as they forward.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

House Committee Deadlocks on Physically Present to Vote Bill

Legislation that would ban elected government officials from voting remotely through Skype or conference call failed to get majority support in the House Committee on Oversight this week.

House Bill 4184 is a reintroduction of legislation which passed the House and Senate last term, but died after the House declined to vote on a Senate change. The legislation, as introduced, amends the Open Meetings Act to require an elected member of a public body be physically present to vote on an issue in order for a meeting to be considered open to the public. There is one exception that allows one remote video vote a year for a “good cause” such as a serious illness or a family member death.

The committee deadlocked 3-3 on moving the bill to the House floor when one Republican member joined the panel’s two Democrats in voting no. The vote was reconsidered and essentially tabled for the day.

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Senate OKs Brownfield Redevelopment Bills

On Wednesday the Senate passed a five-bill package (SB 111, SB 112, SB 113, SB 114 & SB 115) which would allow “transformational” redevelopment projects to capture state tax when a gap is identified between the financial viability of a development project and the cost of building that development.

The legislation requires a certain level of private investment from each project based on the population size of the community the project will be located in. The League worked closely with the bill sponsor and stakeholders to have the investment threshold lowered for the lowest population group so more communities would have the opportunity for a transformational project if the legislation is enacted.

In addition to the private investment, a project must show a net economic benefit and get approval from the local unit of government, where the project will be located, before it would be eligible for state tax capture. Only one project could be approved in a community per year, and the total tax capture the state authorizes cannot exceed $40 million per year.

The legislation now moves to the House and has been referred to the Committee on Tax Policy.

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Early Morning Income Tax Vote Comes Up Short

After over 12 hours of behind the scenes negotiations, the Michigan House ended up voting down a third alternative for an income tax cut in the early hours of Thursday morning.  The amendments that were proposed to HB 4001 H-3 would have lowered the state’s income tax rate from 4.25% down by .1% per year for the next two years and then any further reduction down to 3.9% would have been conditioned on the state’s Rainy Day Fund having a balance of at least $1 billion.  If fully phased down as proposed, the legislation would have sliced more than $1.1 billion from the state’s General Fund revenues.  Once the final vote was tallied, the amended version only had 52 supporters, with 55 members voting against the measure (see page 4 of the linked pdf to see how each legislator voted).

The Municipal League was joined in opposition to this legislation by a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, including Governor Snyder.  As an organization we are extremely thankful for everyone who engaged with their State Representative this week, urging them to protect revenue sharing and local government services and opposing this bill.  We encourage you to reach back out to those legislators who voted No and thank them for their vote.

While the bill was defeated this morning, it is possible that the vote could be reconsidered in the coming weeks, so please be prepared to re-engage with legislators should this bill come back up.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.