Labor Day Bridge Walk Coordination Information Available

With the summer months soon coming upon us, it is not too early to start considering a Labor Day bridge walk in your community. Every year the Michigan Fitness Foundation encourages Michigan communities to host a Labor Day Community Walk to demonstrate their commitment to physical fitness and community involvement.

Labor Day Community Walks are an opportunity to showcase unique parks and recreation spaces in each community and in the past have included activities in public trails, parks and local bridges. These events give residents a local opportunity to participate in Michigan’s tradition of community unity through physical activity on Labor Day.

Every year more than 50,000 Michiganders travel to the Mackinac Bridge to celebrate Michigan’s tradition of physical fitness by participating in the Labor Day Bridge Walk. While not everyone is able to make the trip to the bridge, the Michigan Fitness Foundation would like to give all residents an opportunity to get active on Labor Day.  Each year the Michigan Fitness Foundations encourages communities to get active by hosting local fitness events on Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the Mackinac Bridge walk and run events.

By hosting a Labor Day Community Walk your community can inspire community unity and physical activity during this holiday weekend. We encourage a route length of approximately 5 miles and, if possible, incorporate a community bridge, although communities are welcome to tailor the walk to their unique area. Host communities will receive free promotional materials, a guide to creating and hosting a community walk and can use the Governor’s Council logo on all materials. In addition, your event has the opportunity to be endorsed by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports. Endorsed events will be promoted by the Michigan Fitness Foundation in order to increase participation and obtain media coverage.

This year Labor Day Community Walks will take place on Monday, September 1, 2014. We hope that you will consider making your community a part of Michigan’s Labor Day tradition. To learn more about the walk, please visit To register your community and receive free support materials, please e-mail with the following information:

  • Contact name
  • Contact number
  • Contact e-mail
  • Community name
  • Location and name of walk
  • Description of event
  • Number of people expected to participate

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

House Appropriations Passes New EVIP Proposal and Formula

Yesterday afternoon the House Appropriations Committee reported its recommendations for the general government budget that includes the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP).

Under this proposal category 1, the dashboard, would remain in effect without change. Category 2 would require 5 percent of the second EVIP payment to be committed to road construction or preservation. Category 3 would require 5 percent of the payment to be committed to unfunded liabilities. The language further says that a community that receives less than $50,000 in EVIP funding would not have to comply with the EVIP requirements.

In addition the House proposes changing how EVIP funds are distributed. A local unit would receive a 1 percent increase if they were eligible for payment in the current fiscal year or $7.14609 per capita, whichever is greater. The per capita formula would add include hundreds of additional communities to the formula without regard to service provision.

The League has significant concerns about this language and its disregard for both local control in spending and distribution to communities who provide services. We will continue to work on language that helps invest in communities who provide essential services and does not penalize them by requiring that they spend money as the legislature dictates. Contact your legislators and urge them to oppose these changes.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at

Governor Proposes Plan to Increase Recycling Access

Yesterday the Governor announced a proposal to double the state’s recycling rate over the next two years.  The proposal is intended to increase the state’s current 15 percent recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017.

The initiative focuses on several important pieces including benchmarking progress, education and technical assistance for communities, ensuring convenient access to recycling and developing market opportunities for recycled products.

The League was part stakeholder groups working through this issue in the last year. We are supportive of incentives to help local communities increase recycling access, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Environmental Quality to help our communities reach these goals.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at

New CRC Report Further Proof that Michigan’s Municipal Finance System is Broken

The Michigan Municipal League released a media statement today about a new report from the Citizens Research Council showing that state tax revenues increased by $1.2 billion from 2009 to 2012, while local tax revenues declined by $1.1 billion in the same time period.

Here is a portion of our statement from League President and Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan, which can also be viewed here:

This is further proof that the state has balanced its budget on the backs of local communities while at the same time placing additional requirements, stipulations and bureaucratic red tape on local governments in the form of the cumbersome and problematic Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP).

“Simply put, these findings are an outrage,” said Noonan. “The state continues to divert revenue sharing away from local governments while the state’s surplus grows to nearly a billion dollars. After taking our money, the state then has the audacity to criticize Michigan’s cities and villages for not operating efficiently. It would be like someone taking money out of your wallet and then a day later penalizing you for not having any money. The partnership between state and local governments is broken, and it’s time to fix it.”

The Michigan Municipal League calls on the Legislature to fix the broken partnership between the state and communities and to work together to create the places where people want to live, work, play and create jobs.

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

International Downtown Association (IDA) Midwest Forum to be held in Downtown Grand Rapids

The International Downtown Association (IDA) will be holding their Midwest Forum in Downtown Grand Rapids May 5-6, 2014.  The conference has been designed to be distinctly different and memorable.  Attendees won’t be stuck inside convention and meeting spaces – they’ll be moving between six progressive topical sessions held inside the offices and intuitions that are collectively working to build and rethink the Grand Rapids community.  The focus will be issues and opportunities facing Downtowns that include talent attraction, innovative public engagement, growing support for local businesses, positioning arts and creative institutions to change the cultural landscape, transformative projects and techniques, and much more…

To explore these topics, a lineup of more than 20 speakers has been assembled, including:

See all the detail and the full list of speakers here.

Registration is only $175…

Questions? Contact David Downey ( or Debbie Young ( of IDA.

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


Renowned Hillsdale Economist Calls for State to Restore Funds to Locals

Renowned economist and Hillsdale College Professor Dr. Gary Wolfram has released a report calling on the state to commit to restoring state revenue sharing dollars and remove restraints on road funding enacted in the PA 51 funding formula.

The report indicates that statutory revenue sharing is still 26 percent lower than it should be despite nominal increases in the last few years. Dr. Wolfram also emphasizes the challenges communities face in the ability to raise revenue because property tax growth is capped by 5 percent or the rate of inflation whichever is less.

You can view Dr. Wolfram’s report here: Wolfram report

We appreciate this well researched take on the status of municipal finance in Michigan. Last month the League released The Great Revenue Sharing Heist which emphasizes the significant financial impact $6.2 billion in revenue sharing cuts has had on our communities.

Dr. Wolfram concludes that it should be a priority of the state to “restore its commitment to its local governments. In particular, it should use some of the projected surplus to return revenue sharing to full statutory funding. It should also remove constraints on local governments in Act 51 that limit their ability to maintain local roads.” We could not agree more, Dr. Wolfram.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at

Personal Property Tax Ballot Campaign Kicks Off

This week the campaign to pass the August 5, 2014 ballot proposal, the last step in personal property tax (PPT) reform, kicked off with a series of press conferences. The Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities coalition is seeking to pass a ballot referendum that would allow for use of a portion of the currently collected statewide use tax to fully reimburse communities for PPT loss.

League members attended and led press conferences in Dearborn, Flint, Saginaw and Traverse City.

The coalition has launched a website and you can also follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

We encourage members to support the full replacement of PPT dollars with a significantly more stable reimbursement mechanism by voting “yes” on August 5.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at

Legislature In District Until Late April

The legislature is on spring break until late April. The House is scheduled to be in next on Thursday, April 17. The Senate is scheduled to be back the week of April 22.

In the interim the lobbying team is still hard at work with legislative and administration staff on various issues including (but not even close to limited to) EVIP, transportation funding and tax capture district reform. Happy Spring!

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at

Personal Property Tax Bills Signed by Governor Snyder

Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra was among the dignitaries who attended the personal property tax bill signing ceremony Friday (March 28, 2014) with Governor Rick Snyder.

On Friday Governor Rick Snyder signed a ten bill package that represents months of negotiations on personal property tax (PPT) reform. The Michigan Municipal League’s message on PPT has consistently been 100 percent, guaranteed replacement. The bills do represent 100 percent replacement and a more stable reimbursement mechanism.

The legislation, Senate Bills 821-830, begins fading out PPT in 2016.  The exception is the small parcel exemption for personal property of less than $80,000 true cash value which went into effect December 31, 2013.

The League will be holding a webinar on PPT reform in the coming weeks.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at

Annexation Legislation Receives Hearing in House

The House Local Government committee took testimony this week on HB 4024 (Rep. Heise, R – Plymouth).  This would lock borders of charter townships of 20,000 or less by not allowing annexations.  This piece of legislation has been introduced for the past few sessions.  It stems from an annexation issue between Northville Twp and the city of Livonia (although the city of Livonia didn’t play an active role in the annexation).  The annexation was ultimately turned down by the voters but the goal of the sponsor is to prevent this type of “hostile annexation” to happen again between a more urbanized township and a city.  We testified in opposition to this as did the Michigan Association of Realtors.  The Michigan Association of Home Builders is opposed as well.  There will be workgroups on this starting next week and continuing through the summer months.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use, and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at or 517-908-0305.