Conversation Continues on New Personal Property Tax System

The League co-hosted a webinar this afternoon with Howard Heideman from Treasury’s Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis as a continuation of our effort to provide information and greater access to Treasury as communities move through the initial phases of implementing the state’s new personal property tax system.  More than 125 members registered for today’s presentation, which follows along with meetings held earlier this summer in Muskegon and Marquette.

Stay tuned for a link to the full webinar to be posted here shortly, but in the meantime please visit Treasury’s Personal Property Tax Reimbursements web page for more details and access to the presentation slides.

A special thank you to Howard and to Treasurer Khouri for their partnership and assistance in this outreach effort!

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

Business Groups Push Back Against Dark Stores Fix

Last week, the Detroit News ran an op-ed article from a lobbyist with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, expressing their opposition to the dark stores fix being supported by the Municipal League and every other local government and education organization in the state.  The piece, titled “Local officials mislead property taxpayers“, asserts that the push for a legislative solution (HB 5578) on the big box retail tax assessment appeal issue is being driven by “Local officials, who are unhappy that their efforts to over-assess taxpayers have been routinely rejected in court“.  The opinion piece goes on to claim that the proposed legislation is unconstitutional, would force the MI Tax Tribunal to ignore accepted appraisal principles, and that local governments would use the bill to over-tax businesses based on their profitability.  The author closes by stating “Local governments are trying to legitimize over-taxing by making scapegoats out of job providers who have successfully challenged their over-assessments.”

Unfortunately, the author uses more spin than fact in their arguments.  A quick reading of the language in House Bill 5578 (Maturen) reveals a very different picture…

  • the legislation only impacts those property tax appeals that are heard by the entire tribunal
  • when determining a property’s highest and best use, the language requires the tribunal to consider all relevant information provided by both sides of a dispute, based upon each traditional method of property valuation (cost, sales comparison, and income)
  • for the purpose of sales comparison only, the language precludes the use of data from properties subject to certain deed restrictions designed to impair the highest and best use of the property

The basic premise of the proposal is to ensure that the tribunal has the very best, most comprehensive set of facts at their disposal when setting critical tax policy precedent. Decisions made by the tribunal should ensure that the each of the basic principles of valuation are appropriately considered in every type of situation and that the tribunal, to the greatest extent possible, compares like properties and economic conditions to ensure the most accurate decisions.

And that’s it…nothing nefarious or difficult to understand…the bill was even drafted by the legislator most qualified to take on this issue.  The sponsor, Rep David Maturen (R-Vicksburg) is the current vice-chair of the House Tax Policy committee and has spent his career in the real estate appraisal industry.  Rep. Maturen has held a Level 3 Assessor Certification in Michigan for over 30 years, has worked for the Property Tax Division of the Michigan Department of Treasury and has served on the Michigan Board of Real Estate Appraisers and for the Appraisal Foundation in Washington. D.C.  That experience and understanding is the main reason the sound, simple policy in this bill passed the Michigan House of Representatives in June by a 97-11 margin.

The groups opposed to HB 5578 are focusing all of their efforts on stopping further action on this bill.  Please contact your State Senator and ask them to support action this fall on HB 5578 as a common sense, objective solution to this critical issue.

Form more information on the Dark Stores issue, please visit the League’s advocacy page here – http://www.mml.org/advocacy/dark-stores/.

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

TIF Legislation Active in Both Chambers

Newly introduced House legislation would require TIF authorities to undertake additional transparency and reporting requirements as well as eliminate the capturing of special millages. HB 5851-5856 covers DDAs, Water Resource Improvement TIFAs, LDFAs, CIAs, TIFAs and BRAs. The six bill package is on the agenda of the House Local Government Committee for Wednesday, September 14. We have been informed the House committee will be taking testimony only at this hearing, with any action to take place at a later hearing. The League is working with a group of municipalities along with our Economic Development and Land Use Committee to develop our response to this package.

HB 5851-5855 requires each authority, or the municipality which established the authority, to have a website displaying all authority documents (budget, audit, meeting minutes, contracts, events, promotional materials, plans, and more). The bills require a minimum of one informational meeting to take place annual with special noticing of that meeting(s). There are also additional reporting requirements to the annual report sent to the State Tax Commission as well as the requirement to now send this report to all governing bodies of a taxing unit levying taxes captured by an authority. If notified by the State Tax Commission of failure to send the annual report or non-compliance with the reporting requirements, an authority may not capture any tax increment revenues that are in excess of the amount needed for bonds or other obligations.

Additional language in each bill would eliminate the ability for an authority to capture special voted mills similar to what was done for the Detroit Zoo and DIA.

At the same time, we have been very involved in conversations in the Senate on SB 1026. Senator Horn held meetings with the League and various DDAs around the state this summer. It is expected that SB 1026 will be taken up in committee later this month. Recent draft versions have included numerous League suggested amendments. We are encouraged by this progress and hopeful the version brought before the committee will address our concerns.

The League will be working with the House committee on HB 5851-5856 to incorporate the positive progress we have made in SB 1026. It is unknown at this time if either package will move, and what the other chamber’s interest will be in the differing bill approaches. We will continue to keep everyone updated as the situation evolves.

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.

Treasury Seeking Input From Communities on Revised F-65 Report

Treasury is requesting feedback from communities on the Department’s current F-65 revision project by September 23, 2016.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has been responsible for producing a template and receiving a completed Annual Local Unit Fiscal Report (F-65) from all primary local units of government in the State of Michigan. This template has undergone minor revisions over the past five years. However, the Department will be moving from its current platform to a new online filing system in 2017. Therefore, this is an opportunity to incorporate some significant revisions to the content. As part of the revision process, we are issuing this exposure draft and invite all comments related to the changes. The following link will download a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which has multiple tabs at the left-hand bottom corner of the form. Please refer to them when performing a review. The Excel version has been produced for Exposure Draft purposes only. Formatting issues may be disregarded as they will be different in the online system. As the department moves closer to its launch of the new online system (similar to that of the audit report), more information will be forthcoming.

Any individual or organization that would like to submit comments should provide those comments in writing by the deadline stated above to the Michigan Department of Treasury, Local Government Financial Services Division, PO Box 30728, Lansing, Michigan 48909-8228. Alternatively, an email may be sent to lafd_audits@michigan.gov with the subject line entitled “Exposure Draft.”

 

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

MDOT to Offer Free Rural Task Force Training

On behalf of the Rural Task Force Oversight Board and the Education Subcommittee, MDOT is pleased to bring you a free, one-day Rural Task Force training event.  The training will be held in four locations throughout the state.  Also, if you have any specific questions you would like addressed or any issues or concerns you would like included in the presentation, please submit them through this Survey Monkey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LG29VYP.

The dates and locations are as follows:

  • October 18:  Gaylord, University Center, 80 Livingston Blvd, Gaylord 49735
  • October 20:  Marquette, Holiday Inn, 1951 US 41 West, Marquette 49855
  • October 24:  Lansing, Horatio Earl Training Center, 7575 Crowner Dr., Dimondale, MI 48821
  • October 26:  Flint, Flint Mass Transit Administration and Training Facility, 1401 South Dort Highway, Flint 48503

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS:

A block of rooms at state rates have been reserved the night before for each location.  You will need to contact the hotel and make your own reservation.  The block of rooms will be available up to one month prior to the training.  Specific information for each is listed below:

  • Gaylord: Baymont Inn, 510 S Wisconsin Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735 Phone: (989) 731-6331. Use Group ID# 1017RT
  • Marquette, Holiday Inn, 1951 US 41 West, Marquette 49855, (906) 225-1351. Let them know you are with MDOT Rural Task Force training
  • Lansing, SpringHill Suite, 111 South Marketplace Boulevard, Lansing 48917, (517) 627-0002. Use this link:  Book your group rate for MDOT Rural Task Force Training
  • Flint, Holiday Inn Express, 1150 Robert T. Longway, Flint 48503, (810) 238-7744. Use Group:  MDT

REGISTRATION:

Please click on the following links for the Registration Form and Agenda

You should fill out one form per person.  Space may be limited based on the locations.  We will fill the space by first come first serve with priority given to the public sector.  We may need to limit participation to only one person per agency.  Continental breakfast, coffee and lunch will be provided.

There will also be an opportunity to participate in the Lansing session via webinar.  If you are interested please check the webinar line on the registration form and make sure to include your email address.  Information for joining the webinar will be provided in a later email.

If you have any questions, please contact Andy Brush (brusha@michigan.gov) or Betsy Simon (simonb5@michigan.gov).

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

Beach Safety & Emergency Equipment Guidance

Michigan has in excess of 2,100 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, which contain more than 100 public beaches. When conditions are right the Great Lakes can have waves and currents of incredible force. Unfortunately, hazardous water currents on the Great Lakes account for may drowning deaths each year. Rip currents, other dangerous currents and unsafe wave conditions can occur along many beaches around the state.

In recent years, there’s been an important focus to make the public aware of the danger involving unsafe water currents as well as providing additional safety and rescue equipment at public beaches, but concerns have been raised about liability.  Many local units of government have expressed trepidation about potential liability regarding the placement of safety and rescue equipment on their public swimming beaches.  However, Michigan governmental agencies are generally immune from liability in connection with beach safety.  Still, it is nonetheless important for communities to take every measure they can to protect public safety.

Communities looking to establish or update their beach safety guidelines, policies and plans have numerous resources to refer to for review. For example, in May, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources updated their Designated Beach Policy. To view the policy click the link provided MDNR POLICY 3. 6 DESIGNATED BEACHES 05-05-16 (002). A few local community examples are provided in the links below.

http://www.south-haven.com/pages/beaches/beach_pier_safety_book.pdf

http://www.muskegonhealth.net/programs/educational/watersafety.htm

http://michigancityparks.com/index.php/additional-resources/tips-and-rules/101-beach-rules-and-regulations

Any local unit of government having specific questions should discuss this matter with their legal counsel.

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.

Municipal Officials Run For State House

Last week’s statewide primary election has narrowed the field for the 110 state House races that will be on the ballot this November.  All told, 42 of the 110 (27 GOP and 15 DEM) seats in the Michigan House will have new representation next year, most due to term limits.  The House is currently divided 63-45 with two vacancies.  In 11 of those 42 open seats, candidates with strong city or village roots were able to secure their party’s nomination. We are encouraged by this level of involvement from local officials and excited for the opportunity to work with those candidates that are successful this fall.

Primary election results and upcoming ballot information can be found through the Michigan Voter Information Center and the Michigan Secretary of State’s website.

The summer recess for the House and Senate continues through the end of this month, with legislative session for both chambers scheduled to resume in the first part of September.  Following the currently scheduled September session dates, they are scheduled to recess for the campaign season, returning for a potential “lame duck” session that begins, following the election, on November 9th.

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

MI Treasury Provides New Essential Services Form for State PPT Calculation

Staff from Treasury this afternoon provided the following information and newly developed Form 5448 to calculate essential services as part of the implementation of the new Personal Property Tax reimbursement process.  The new Form 5448 can be viewed here – PPT Form 5448 FYE 12 % of Operating Millage Used to Fund Essential Services, or at the link to Treasury’s website below.  Responses are requested by July 15, 2016.

From Treasury/ORTA:

The Local Community Stabilization Authority Act (LCSA Act), 2014 Public Act 86, requires personal property tax distributions for all operating and debt millages.  The LCSA Act provides that the personal property distribution for millage(s) used entirely or in part to fund essential services (i.e. police, fire, ambulance, or jails) is calculated separately from millage used for other purposes.

To calculate the personal property distribution for essential services, the LCSA Act requires the Department of Treasury (Treasury) to calculate each municipality’s percentage of general operating millage used to fund the cost of essential services in the municipality’s fiscal year ending in 2012.  However, the law allows the municipality to perform the calculation by including the calculation in its comprehensive annual financial report for the municipality’s fiscal year ending in either 2014 or 2015, or by reporting the calculation in a manner prescribed by Treasury.  Therefore, Treasury has developed Form 5448 – FYE 2012 Percentage of General Operating Millage Used to Fund Essential Services (see attached) to assist municipalities with reporting the calculation.  The calculated percentage will be used to calculate each municipality’s Local Community Stabilization Share Revenue Essential Services Distribution in 2016 and for all future years.

Treasury is requesting that municipalities complete and return the Form 5448 by July 15, 2016.  The completed form can be submitted by email to TreasORTAPPT@michigan.gov, by fax to 517-335-3298, or by mail to:

Michigan Department of Treasury

Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis

PO Box 30722

Lansing, MI  48909

For those municipalities that do not submit a Form 5448, Treasury will perform the calculation based on the municipality’s audited financial report or F65 report for the fiscal year ending in 2012.

For detail regarding the calculation of the Local Community Stabilization Share Revenue Essential Services Distribution, visit Treasury’s website at http://www.michigan.gov/taxes/0,4676,7-238-43535_72736-358296–,00.html.

Please direct any questions regarding the completion of this form to TreasORTAPPT@michigan.gov or 517-373-2697.

Thank you.

Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis – Michigan Department of Treasury

 

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

Michigan Downtown Association to hold Workshop August 19

The Michigan Downtown Association’s (MDA) summer workshop, “It’s Easy Being Green: Best Practices for Environmental Sustainability”, is taking place August 19 in Grand Haven at the Grand Haven Community Center.

MDA members and guests may reserve rooms at the Grand Haven Holiday Inn for Thursday 8/18/2016 for a special rate of $105.95. To reserve your room call 1-800-HOLIDAY, or call the front desk directly at 616-846-1000 and mention “MDA.” To reserve your room online visit www.higrandhaven.com and use the block code “MDA.”

For questions or more information on this event visit http://www.memberleap.com/members/evr/regmenu.php?orgcode=MDTA, or contact the MDA at info@michigandowntowns.com or by calling 248-838-9711.

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.

Bill to Consolidate TIF Authorities Introduced

Legislation was introduced yesterday, SB 1026, to consolidate all tax increment financing authorities, excluding BRAs, in to one act. Each of the individual acts were incorporated in to the new structure without change. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Economic Development and International Investment.

A hearing was held this morning for Senate Policy staff to give an overview of the bill. No other testimony was taken. In addition to combining the TIF authorities under one act, this legislation focuses on reporting requirements and accountability for adhering to those requirements. It also outlines measures for transparency.

The sponsor said he is committed to working with stakeholders, including the League, over the summer to receive feedback on this bill. The League has been meeting with the sponsor and Senate staff over the last several months and will be heavily involved in discussions as the committee considers this legislation.

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.