MAC’s Bosworth fights flawed tax capture bill

The House Commerce Committee took testimony Wednesday on House Bill 5856 that would revamp state law on downtown development authorities — revamp, but not reform, argued MAC’s Deena Bosworth to committee members.

According to the MIRS News Service (paywall protected) Bosworth “… said the bill ‘falls far short of what we consider real reform.’

“Bosworth argued the continued idea that TIF districts can capture county tax dollars without any say from the counties is ‘fundamentally unfair.’

Bosworth

Bosworth

“‘The proponents of downtown development authorities anywhere and everywhere across the state will tell you that that increased revenue would not be there if wasn’t for their efforts,’ Bosworth told the committee. ‘I happen to disagree.’

“Bosworth used the example of a Home Depot being built outside a true downtown through a DDA. Westland apparently used its DDA dollars to build a city hall, she said.

“‘County revenue for municipal infrastructure projects, I don’t think that was the intention,’ Bosworth said.

“Over the last 10 years, Oakland County has had $70 million in tax revenue captured.

“‘Oakland County wants to have a say in how long they’re there, what projects are done and what county revenue is being captured for what purposes,’ Bosworth said.

“Bosworth also told the committee that MAC had been promised ‘significant reforms.'”

Road impasse has cost state $270 million, and counting

calculator imageThe Legislature’s refusal to fund new investments in infrastructure has cost Michigan taxpayers more than $270 million since June 12 of this year, says a coalition committed to road funding reform.

The Just Fix the Roads Coalition unveiled a calculator widget that shows how much inaction has cost residents.

“’As each day passes, that figure climbs by $2.7 million, or $1 billion per year. Faced with that cost of delay, Michigan’s legislators must find a way to invest at least $2 billion more annually on roads, or the public will continue to bear the brunt of their inaction. As legislators continue to put off road funding, the cost of repairs will escalate even further. It is a major funding dilemma that will only get worse over time,” said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, a member of the coalition, along with MAC and many others.

Monday evening on the porch

After a full day of workshops and policy discussions on Monday, MAC members were able to unwind a bit on the famous Front Porch of the Grand Hotel. The views and the people were potent reminders of how great a place Michigan is.

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MLive series: voters vs. tax capture

Mlive continues its series on the use of tax increment financing in Michigan by telling the story of voters’ will thwarted in Ingham County:

“Ingham County voters have approved countywide millages for things like the Potter Park Zoo, 911 operation and health care services. What those voters may not know is that 5.5 percent of the money they approved was actually captured for other purposes.”

Welcome to the 2014 Annual Conference

MAC members, friends and supporters,

Welcome to the 2014 Annual Conference at the impressive Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. This year’s event will be full of helpful and interesting panels on hot topics before county governments — and, of course, the friendship and camaraderie you can expect at any MAC gathering.

To get you rolling into the conference, please take a moment to go over this checklist:

1. Are you following MAC’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MIcounties ?

2. Are you following MAC on Twitter (@MIcounties) ? (Also, note that the hashtag for our event is #macannconf2014. Please use that hashtag in all of your tweets.)

3. Do you have the MAC blog bookmarked on your computer: http://micounties.org/blog/

4. Have you downloaded the special — and FREE — MAC app created just for the 2014 Conference? Just follow the instructions in the image below.

Conference App adThank you for attending the conference. We hope you have a fun and informative time on Mackinac Island.

MAC makes case for tax capture reform in MLive series

Bosworth

Bosworth

The effects of poorly designed tax capture laws on county services was the topic of the second day of a special MLive series on tax increment financing, with MAC staffers making the case for obvious and immediate reforms.

Commenting on a longstanding problem with downtown development authorities created decades ago, MAC’s Deena Bosworth said, “If something was created in 1980, we’re getting as much revenue from that property as we did in 1980.”

MLive’s Emily Lawler also reported on the effects on special millages:

“Little known to voters is that the capture can also come out of special millages.

“For example, voters might approve a special millage for senior citizen services at the county level. If the county includes a tax capture district, that district is entitled to capture a portion of that millage – something that’s not included in the ballot language. As a result, some voters may not know that when they voted to increase senior services, they were also voting to give part of that increase to a DDA.”

For example, in Bay County alone over the last decade, about $4.5 million in special millage funds have been diverted via tax capture. These funds would have gone to programs for everything from veterans and seniors to insect control and roads.

Keep your eye on www.mlive.com and the blog all week for additional coverage of this issue.

MLive puts microscope on tax-capture districts

As legislators reconvene in Lansing for their fall session, the MLive Media Group has begun a week-long look at a key issue for counties across the state: tax capture districts.

MAC has been educating lawmakers on the need to reform state law on how tax increment financing districts operate and now a new University of Michigan report illustrates that need again. Read the entire story here, but we think this segment goes to the heart of the matter on transparency and accountability:

“‘Why do we think that TIFs are a good thing in terms of tax policy if we don’t know how their money is being used?’ Bieri said.

“In addition to the state not exercising regulatory authority over these authorities, the boards that run TIFs are not elected and thus not directly responsible to the citizens of the communities they serve.

“‘Joe public, the average citizen has very little ballot box control over that property tax revenue that is used for TIFs,’ Bieri said.”

Keep checking your MAC website and watch for Legislative Updates from MAC HQ to stay abreast of all developments on this issue.