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 sharkins@mml.org

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 nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Senate Transportation Committee Take Testimony on Michigan’s Cold Weather Crisis

Today the Senate Transportation Committee took testimony on the affects this year’s harsh winter has had on water and sewer infrastructure in the state of Michigan. Communities all across this state have been dealing with frozen service leads, frozen water and sewer mains, let run orders, and many other strains on their water and sewer systems because of the extreme cold. The committee hearing helped shine some light on the on this problem and raised the attention of legislators in attendance.

There are very serious and real implications. Municipal budgets, residents, and workers are all feeling the affects. The Municipal League is fully committed to working with our communities, the Legislature, and the Governor to help those who are affected. Thank you to all of the communities who helped further explain the severity of this crisis by participated in today’s hearing.

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.

House and Senate Transportation Budgets Include More Money For Locals

Both the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee’s on Transportation reported out their budgets with additional money for local road agencies. Each of these budgets included an additional $115 million in a one-time general fund appropriation that will be distributed through the formula. As a result cities and villages across this state will see an increase of $25 million in the next fiscal year.

These budget recommendations will now go before the full appropriations committee for a vote. The League is supportive of these changes and would like to thank Chairman Papageorge and Chairman VerHeulen for their leadership on this issue.

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.

Personal Property Tax Bills Pass House with Full Replacement

This afternoon the House passed 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 bills, Senate Bills 821-830, now head to the Senate for concurrence. We expect the bills to be on the Governor’s desk by the end of the week.

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

Act Now: Call Lawmakers and Tell Them to Oppose Proposed Changes to EVIP, Revenue Sharing

The Michigan Municipal League is asking our League members to contact their state lawmakers today to oppose changes to the revenue sharing/Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). These changes were approved in the House Appropriations General Government Subcommittee this morning (March 25, 2014) and are expected to go to the House floor this week for a vote. It’s imperative our members tell their legislators to oppose this action.

To learn about these proposed changes, read this blog post by the League’s Samantha Harkins.

When contacting your lawmakers here are some key points to make:

- The intent of revenue sharing dollars is to help communities fund essential services their residents desire, such as police and fire protection, water and sewer service, snow removal, infrastructure improvements, etc.

- The proposed changes would expand the EVIP program to nearly 1,500 local governments, including 1,035 townships.

- We question why the program is being expanded to local units of governments that don’t provide essential services that cities, villages and urban townships provide.

- The proposal changes how EVIP funds are distributed to a per capita formula. This formula would add hundreds of additional communities to the formula without any consideration of whether these communities provide essential services.

- The League is happy to have a discussion about the best way to get resources to our communities; however, a pure per capita distribution will have a detrimental effect on the many Michigan communities who provide essential services while rewarding those communities who do not.

- The proposal requires local units of government to commit increased EVIP funds to road maintenance and unfunded liabilities. This “one-size-fits-all-mentality” is the ultimate rebuff of local control. Local units of government are careful stewards of taxpayer dollars and know and understand the priorities of their community and residents. The Legislature dictating how funds are spent does not take into account other important needs for funding. Perhaps roads and unfunded liabilities are the best place for this money to be spent in one community but not another. That is up to the local community to decide.

The League appreciates all that you can do in sharing the concerns about this proposal. If you have any questions about this please contact the League’s Samantha Harkins at sharkins@mml.org and (517) 908-0306.

House Hears Testimony on Electric Choice Legislation

This morning the House Energy & Technology Committee heard a second week of testimony on House Bill 5184, a bill that would deregulate electricity. More specifically it would move the state from a system of hybrid electric regulation to deregulation.

The legislation would require large electric utility companies (at least 1 million customers) to submit plans to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to either sell off or to transfer their electric generation assets to an affiliate—thus separating electric generation from distribution. The affiliate would not be regulated by the MPSC.

The bill would remove the 10 percent cap on electric choice for customers of large utilities and prohibit undue market power by a large utility. It would also allow local governments, schools, colleges, and universities to aggregate to purchase electricity for residential and small commercial customers within their boundaries.
The legislation is extremely controversial and opposed by the large electric utilities. The League board has taken an official position to support lifting the cap on electric choice.
Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

House Committee Passes New EVIP Proposals and New Formula

This morning the House General Government Appropriations Subcommittee 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.

Reps. Fred Durhal (D-Detroit) and Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) both offered amendments to strip out the EVIP requirements altogether and restore full funding for statutory revenue sharing. We appreciate their efforts to eliminate these burdensome requirements.

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.

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

Free Federal Transportation Funding Webinar Wednesday, March 26th

The National League of Cities is hosting a free webinar tomorrow, March 26th.

Funding the Transportation System of Your Community’s Future
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
1:00 to 2:00 pm ET

Anticipated population growth in metropolitan centers are driving communities to think about how to fund transportation systems needed to meet current demands and future needs at the same time. But challenges can arise with budgetary shortfalls, competing local priorities, and the need to plan for both economically and environmentally sustainable places to live and work.

The National League of Cities and Transportation for America will share how Indianapolis, IN has been addressing their transportation obstacles and building a multimodal network that is able to create and provide access to jobs. Webinar participants will learn how to engage a wide variety of stakeholders and how to come together to think forwardly and creatively about their transportation needs and the impact federal dollars are having on their local projects. The webinar will also go over some of the opportunities and challenges in the current transportation bill, MAP-21 and what the outlook is for local governments with the next bill.

Participants Include:
Julia Pulidindi, National League of Cities
Sarah Kline, Research Director, Transportation for America
David Rosenberg, Director of Enterprise Development, Mayor Gregory A. Ballard’s Office, City of Indianapolis, IN
Mike Terry, President and CEO, IndyGo
Sean Northup, Assistant Executive Director, Indy MPO

This is a free webinar. Please feel free to share with others who may be interested. To register for the webinar, click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@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.