Fiscal Year 2018 Federal High Risk Rural Roads Program Accepting Applications

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2018 High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) program. The FY 2018 federal budget for this program is estimated to be $6,000,000.

Local agencies are allowed to submit more than one project for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency for the fiscal year (including any selected FY 2018 HSIP projects). Any non-selected projects submitted under this HRRR call for projects will be automatically rolled over to the general FY 2018 HSIP safety call for projects. Selected HRRR projects are to be obligated in FY 2018; the Local Agency will not be allowed to delay a selected HRRR to a different fiscal year.

Applications are to by electronically submitted or postmarked by Friday, September 2, 2016. For more information please click here.

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.

Bill Eliminating Local Cost Sharing with MDOT Sent to the Governor

Prior to the Legislature breaking for the summer the League was able to secure passage of a significant policy change to Michigan’s transportation funding formula.

Act 51 currently requires that all incorporated cities and villages with a population larger than 25,000 to pay a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s project costs for opening, widening, and improving state trunkline highways within that incorporated city or village. A city or village is required to pay 12.5% of the project cost if their population is greater than 50,000, 11.25% of the project costs if their population is between 40,000 and 50,000, and 8.75% of the project costs if their population is between 25,000 and 40,000. This statute affects 45 cities in Michigan.

SB 557, sponsored by Senator Knollenberg, would eliminate the requirement for incorporated cities and villages greater than 25,000 to cover a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation projects cost. As Michigan works to develop a 21st century transportation network the League believes these 45 cities should no longer be required to subsidize MDOT’s costs for the following reason:

  • All country road agencies and incorporated cities and villages with a population less than 25,000 are not required to pay a portion of MDOT’s project cost creating inequity in the system.
  • The funds used to pay for the cost of these projects comes directly from the 21.8% percent of funding received by cities and villages under Act 51. This results in less than 21.8% of Act 51 funding actually being used on local roads.
  • These matching funds can cost a local road agency a significant portion of their Act 51 funding.
  • Covering these project costs can delay, reduce, or eliminate future rehabilitation or reconstruction projects and significantly hinder a city’s ability to conduct routine maintenance such as snow plowing
  • MDOT’s planning process allocates state spending on projects based on the needs of their system without taking into account a city’s ability to contribute to the cost of those projects as required by Act 51. An unexpected bill from the Department could cripple a city’s local road program for years

This bill received unanimous support in both the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

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.

Legislation Impacting Speed Limits Passes the House

Prior to leaving for summer break the House passed five bills, HB 4423, 4424, 4425, 4426, and 4427, that would impact speed limits in Michigan

These bills when first introduce would have required that speed limits be set at the 85th percentile of speed. Fundamentally, we believe that all users of the roadway should be taken into account when setting a speed limit. Setting speeds strictly at the 85th percentile completely neglects taking the context of the roadway, the surrounding environment, pedestrian traffic (walking or biking), transit, or the views and needs of the community into account.

After months of negotiations with the sponsor all of the restrictive language was removed. The 85th percentile of speed still needs to be considered when setting speed limits but additional language was added to ensure that engineering and safety studies could be included as a way to adjust speeds for context.

Each community is best suited to understand local conditions that place children, the disabled, seniors and other vulnerable roadway users in harm’s way, and we support our communities efforts and ability to provide a safe and inviting environment. The League supports the changes to the legislation and we will be working hard in the Senate to maintain and preserve local control.

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.

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.

Dark Stores Fix Wins Approval in House!

The Michigan House passed the League-supported fix to the Dark Stores issue today by an amazing margin!  Receiving majority support from both Republicans and Democrats, the House voted 97-11 to move the proposed changes in House Bill 5578 over to the Senate.  This was a critical first step in the legislative process and provides an important boost to the ongoing prospects for the bill.

With the Legislature expected to begin their summer recess at some point this week, the League and other local government partners will be working to secure committee action in the Senate upon their expected September return to session.

The success of today’s vote would not have been possible without involvement from League members all around the state, so thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators these past few weeks!  Our fight is not over though.  Opponents of this bill are working hard to keep this legislation bottled up in the Senate.  Please take every opportunity this summer to talk directly with your State Senator about the importance of this legislation to your community and urge them to support HB 5578 and its swift consideration in the Senate.

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

Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act Sunset Extension Approved

Following Senate approval earlier this year, the House today overwhelmingly passed SB 673, a bill to extend the sunset of the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act from December of this year until the end of 2026. This act has been used in communities across the state to assist in the redevelopment of obsolete buildings and putting properties back in to productive use.

Thank you Senator Horn for continuing to be an advocate on this issue and keeping a valuable local tool that assists our communities in redevelopment and economic development.

The legislation now goes to the Governor for his signature.

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.

Additional 2014-2015 PPT Reimbursement Funds Released

The Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) announced the release of nearly $3.5 million of additional PPT reimbursements today.  In October of 2015, 214 cities received over $15.7 million as reimbursement for operating losses due to the small taxpayer exemption from 2014 and 2015.  Following a law change (HB 5176 – PA 124’16) to make a technical correction to the distribution formula, an additional $3.46 million is set to be distributed to those same eligible cities.  Checks are set to be mailed today, June 2nd, 2016.  The official notice from the LCSA can be read here – LCSA PPT Notice.June2016

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

Dark Stores Assessment Issue: Time is of the Essence, Contact Lawmakers this Weekend!

Please contact your state Representatives TODAY and leave a message asking for their support of HB 5578, which is the legislative fix to the Dark Stores assessment issue negatively affecting many of our communities. This is an extremely important issue that is already hurting many communities and will likely be impacting your community soon. Use our Action Center to get your Representatives contact information and send them a sample letter that we’ve drafted.

As you may have read, Michigan communities have momentum on this issue thanks to a Court of Appeals ruling Friday that validates the case against the Dark Stores property valuation method. Some people in the state Legislature view this court ruling as a reason for them not to take action on HB 5578. But that is not the case. The court ruling is good news but HB 5578 is still needed because it affirms the decision by the Court of Appeals and sets clear guidelines for the Michigan Tax Tribunal, where this issue originated.

The sponsor of this bill Rep. Dave Maturen has 26 co-sponsors from both parties and it passed out of the House Tax Policy committee in an 11-2 vote.

Please tell your Representatives to take up and vote in support of HB 5578 this week in the State House.

For further information about the bill and the previous committee testimony, please review these Inside 208 articles – “Committee Approves Dark Store Fix – Contact Your Legislator”, “New Dark Stores Solution…”  and “Michigan Municipal League Members Testify…”.  Or visit the League’s Dark Stores Information Page.

Senate Transportation Committee Votes to Eliminate Local Cost Sharing Requirement with MDOT

Act 51 currently requires that all incorporated cities and villages with a population larger than 25,000 to pay a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s project costs for opening, widening, and improving state trunkline highways within that incorporated city or village. A city or village is required to pay 12.5% of the project cost if their population is greater than 50,000, 11.25% of the project costs if their population is between 40,000 and 50,000, and 8.75% of the project costs if their population is between 25,000 and 40,000. This statute affects 45 cities in Michigan.

SB 557, sponsored by Senator Knollenberg, would eliminate the requirement for incorporated cities and villages greater than 25,000 to cover a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation projects cost. As Michigan works to develop a 21st century transportation network the League believes these 45 cities should no longer be required to subsidize MDOT’s costs for the following reason:

  • All country road agencies and incorporated cities and villages with a population less than 25,000 are not required to pay a portion of MDOT’s project cost creating inequity in the system.
  • The funds used to pay for the cost of these projects comes directly from the 21.8% percent of funding received by cities and villages under Act 51. This results in less than 21.8% of Act 51 funding actually being used on local roads.
  • These matching funds can cost a local road agency a significant portion of their Act 51 funding.
  • Covering these project costs can delay, reduce, or eliminate future rehabilitation or reconstruction projects and significantly hinder a city’s ability to conduct routine maintenance such as snow plowing
  • MDOT’s planning process allocates state spending on projects based on the needs of their system without taking into account a city’s ability to contribute to the cost of those projects as required by Act 51. An unexpected bill from the Department could cripple a city’s local road program for years

This week the Senate transportation committee agreed with the League’s opposition to this provision within Act 51 and unanimously voted to eliminate it.

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.

Personal Property Tax Implementation Process Continues to Evolve

A series of bills amending the new personal property tax reform effort were signed by the Governor this month.  House Bills 5525-5527, 5545, and 5176 were all signed with immediate effect over the past two weeks.

The bulk of this package of bills arose from Treasury’s initial experience, early this year, with the first phase-out of Eligible Manufacturing Personal Property certification filings. As Treasury worked with the assessing and business communities, they discovered numerous concerns with the structure of the forms, filing deadlines, and process for dealing with corrections or amendments to those filings.  The main result in these bills was an agreement to allow a 2016-only extension of the EMPP filing window for businesses until May 31st of this year.  The bills also included amendments to address the state and local process for handling any additional filings and/or corrections that occur as a result of those filings.

While HB 5176 was originally requested by the League to address a technical concern with the distribution formula for revenue that is set to be sent to the 300+ cities that received a reimbursement check last fall for their small taxpayers exemption losses from 2014 and 2015, the extension of the filing window for EMPP also necessitated a short delay in the reimbursement schedule from PPT losses from October 20th, 2016 until November 20, 2016.  This delay will only impact the 2016 reimbursement payment timing.  Treasury has been awaiting the statutory correction to the formula so that they could distribute approximately $3.5 million additional dollars to those cities eligible for reimbursement of those small taxpayer exemption losses.  Reimbursement checks from this $3.5 million fund should be distributed before the end of this month.

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