Archive for February, 2024

House committee hears testimony on bill to help curb sheriff office staffing shortages

House Bill 5203, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Oakland), would allow county boards of commissioners to choose if retired county employees who work at a sheriff’s office can continue to receive retirement benefits during a period of re-employment.

Currently, if a person who has retired and receives retirement benefits becomes re-employed by the same county, their retirement benefit payment is suspended for the length of their re-employment.  House Bill 5203 would allow retirement benefits to continue during re-employment if a retiree becomes employed by a county sheriff’s office.

Allowing counties to re-employ sheriff’s office employees and maintain their retirement benefits will address the severe staffing shortages seen within county sheriff’s offices. When deputies, for example, retire from the sheriff’s office, and their position cannot be filled, this bill would allow the deputy to return to their role and avoid further staffing shortages within the sheriff’s office.

MAC supports this legislation. For further information, please contact Samantha Gibson at gibson@micounties.org.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $1.25 billion in Direct, Accessible Grants for Local Communities to Improve Roadway Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has opened the process for cities, towns, counties, Tribal governments, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) to apply for $1.256 billion in funding for local projects that improve roadway safety. The funds are from the competitive grant program, Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A), which was created in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help communities both plan and carry out projects that help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on our highways, streets, and roads. The SS4A grant program is a major action that supports funding to advance the DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, which launched in 2022 to address the high number of traffic deaths happening across the country. 

SS4A funds will help communities in the development of road safety action plans and improve unsafe roadway corridors by implementing effective interventions. Additionally, these funds can be utilized to test out safety features such as separated bicycle lanes or curb extensions at intersections. 

“Every community knows some intersection or stretch of road that is dangerous to approach – now we have an opportunity to make them safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris administration is proud to make over $1.2 billion available for projects that can save lives on our roads, from highway redesigns to protected bike lanes, and we invite communities of every size to apply.” 

Last year, DOT announced more than 1,000 communities in total received $1.7 billion in grants under SS4A, impacting roadway safety for around 70% of the nation’s population and over 60% of traffic fatalities that occurred between 2017 and 2021. With more than $1 billion available this year, the Department encourages all interested communities to apply, especially communities that have not applied to date. For Planning and Demonstration Grants, DOT has further encouraged communities with higher needs to apply by providing additional award consideration to those with higher fatality rates. The Department compiled a non-exhaustive list of the cities and counties that meet that threshold online and will continue to support the information needs of these localities throughout the application period.  

The application process for SS4A is designed to be as easy as possible and increased accessibility to this program in this latest funding round, particularly for smaller communities, Tribal governments and recipients new to Federal funding. This includes multiple deadlines and a longer application period for planning proposals, a pre-application review opportunity to determine eligibility before applying for implementation funding, and clarification about the use of Tribal Transportation Program funds as eligible for local match.  

Applications may come from individual communities or groups of communities and may include MPOs, counties, cities, towns, other special districts that are subdivisions of a state, certain transit agencies, federally recognized Tribal governments, and multijurisdictional groups of eligible applicants.  

The Safe Streets and Roads for All Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found at  https://www.transportation.gov/grants/SS4A. Applications for Implementation Grants are by May 16. Planning and demonstration grant applicants will have three opportunities to apply with the deadlines of April 4, May 16, and August 29.  

Podcast 83 talks with MSHDA head about Michigan housing crisis

“We are about 190,000 (housing) units short of where we need to be.”

Those were the words of Amy Hovey, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) in explaining the state’s housing crisis in a special episode of Podcast 83.

Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth, subbing in for regular host Stephan Currie, engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of how and why housing became such a challenge for Michigan families – and Michigan policymakers.

“Primarily, this is because our household size has shrunk in our state. It was just over four people per household, and now it’s only at two people per household. So, even though we aren’t having a lot of population growth in our state, we still have a housing crisis,” Hovey explained.

In maps shared by Hovey’s staff, this crisis pinches some counties more than others, with effects pronounced in Branch, Missaukee, Montcalm, Newaygo and Otsego.

While most of MSHDA’s financial efforts are aimed at developers and individuals, Hovey emphasized the need for county involvement in the state’s housing plan.

“Governments at every level should be involved in the (state’s 15 regional housing partnerships), bringing their voices and their needs to the development of those plans,” Hovey explained. We have seen some counties (get involved on the issue). I met with Charlevoix County late last year, and they’re thinking about doing countywide zoning, which I love the idea. Counties often have more capacity than some of our smaller local governments, especially in our rural areas of our state.”

View the full video of the episode, recorded on Feb. 6, by clicking here.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

And you always can find details about Podcast 83 on the MAC website.

Staff picks

MAC Team attends NACo Annual Legislative Conference

The National Association of Counties (NACo) hosted its annual legislative conference earlier this week. Michigan was well represented at the conference with more than sixty commissioners in attendance, as well as several MAC staff members.

Several attendees had the opportunity to meet with their respective congressional representatives. MAC armed them with a list of federal priorities including restoring full mandatory funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, support for federal legislation to amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy to reinstate Medicaid benefits to county jail inmates prior to their release, and extending funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program so low-income households can continue accessing broadband at a reduced rate.

President Joe Biden made an appearance at the conference speaking to a general session on Monday. Biden spoke of America’s comeback from the pandemic era, both economically and emotionally. As a former county commissioner himself, Biden introduced the American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help counties navigate those unprecedented times. Biden highlighted new job opportunities with the return of semiconductor companies to America and a multibillion-dollar investment in broadband deployment.

With deadlines for U.S. Senators and Representatives to submit their earmark requests to appropriations committees, please be sure to inform your federal legislators of any earmark proposals as soon as possible.

The NACo legislative conference is always a great opportunity to swap ideas and learn from other states how they have tackled issues that Michigan is facing. It is a platform for learning more about federal programs and connecting with Michigan’s federal legislators. Please consider participating in 2025!

FY25 budget year is off to good start for counties, Podcast 83 team says

Counties would see significant investments in key needs under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fiscal 2025 state budget, MAC’s Podcast 83 team noted in a new episode.

However, new dollars for revenue sharing, juvenile justice and health care for some jail inmates still have to get through the legislative budget process, never a sure thing said team members.

Whitmer calls for $281.2 million for county revenue sharing, with increases set in a mix of unrestricted and restricted formats. If approved, this amount would represent a $26 million boost from the FY24 baseline amount.

Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth cautioned that this amount is the starting point of budget talks. “We have to watch it through the entire process very, very closely,” she said.

The governor’s plan also did not reference the creation of a dedicated and secured Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, a MAC priority for 2024, but Bosworth said the progress made last year in the Legislature on that issue is a good sign for eventual passage.

“We’re starting to see some decent sized growth right now,” Bosworth said. “But we went back and looked at where county revenue sharing was in 2001. It was $228 million. This year, the recommendation, including the one-time funds as $281 million. If we just kept up with inflation (from 2001), we would be over $400 million for counties across the state.”

On the juvenile front, Samantha Gibson said, “We’ve discussed at length, especially on this podcast, the juvenile justice bed shortage crisis. In (this budget), we do see some significant funding suggestions to go towards resolving that bed shortage. There’s $38 million to kind of reconfigure how the (state) contracts with child caring institutions.”

Whitmer’s plans in the criminal justice sphere include a $30.5 million allotment to cover health services for jail inmates slated for release who would otherwise be eligible for federal Medicaid coverage. This amount would be in service of a state effort to get a so-called Section 1115 Re-entry Waiver from the federal government to relieve counties of health care costs they now bear due to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy.

Reform of that policy is a MAC priority for 2024, Gibson noted.

MAC was also pleased to see a $15 million allotment for stormwater improvements, said Madeline Fata.

Whitmer also seeks a 1,289 percent increase in the tipping fees to place waste in landfills, moving it from 36 cents to $5 per ton. “Gov. (Rick) Snyder recommended something similar back in 2018,” Fata said, “and he wasn’t able to get it across the finish line. With that increase, it would bring us up to par with other Midwestern states, as Michigan is currently the lowest with tipping fees.

“It would then deter out-of-state dumping, which is a problem that Michigan faces,” Fata added. “MAC does support mechanisms to deter out-of-state waste. Ultimately (the proposed increase) would generate about $80 million annually.”

For more coverage of the FY25 budget plan, see MAC’s Legislative Update from Feb. 9.

View the full video of the episode, recorded on Feb. 8, by clicking here.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

And you always can find details about Podcast 83 on the MAC website.

2023 PPT Reimbursement Correction Process

The Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury) reminds municipalities that, although not required, they can correct errors in the 2023 Personal Property Tax (PPT) reimbursements distributed in October 2023 and February 2024.

The Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) Act provides municipalities an opportunity to review the PPT reimbursement calculations and data used in the calculations to ensure accurate PPT reimbursement distributions. To determine if an error has occurred in the PPT reimbursement calculations or data used, the municipality must review the applicable reports on Treasury’s 2023 Personal Property Tax (PPT) Reimbursements website.

Links to the 2023 PPT reimbursement calculations and most common data used:

  1. School District & ISD – 2023 PPT Calculation by Millage – October 2023 and February 2024
  2. Other Municipalities – 2023 PPT Calculation by Millage – October 2023 and February 2024
  3. 2013 and 2023 Personal Property Taxable Values Reported in Calendar Year 2023
  4. 2013 and 2023 Personal Property Taxable Values of Renaissance Zones

When NO Errors Are Identified:

If a municipality does not identify an error, the municipality does not need to file a form or take any further action to notify Treasury. 

When Errors ARE Identified:

If a municipality does identify an error, the municipality will need to complete the appropriate correction form to notify Treasury of the error(s). In addition to the correction form(s), municipalities must provide substantiating documentation to support a correction. The correction forms (along with the associated deadlines) are available on Treasury’s Forms for Calculation of PPT Reimbursements website.

  1. Form 5651 – Correction of 2023 Personal Property Taxable Values Used for the 2023 Personal Property Tax Reimbursement Calculations
    1. Municipality submission deadline to County Equalization Director: February 28, 2024
    2. County Equalization Director submission deadline to Treasury: March 31, 2024
    3. Note: Per the LCSA Act, only the 2023 personal property taxable values may be corrected. The 2023 personal property taxable values must be the taxable value on May 10, 2023.
       
  2. Form 5654Correction of School Millage Rates or Other Errors for the 2023 Personal Property Tax Reimbursement Calculations
    1. Municipality submission deadline to Treasury: March 31, 2024
    2. Note: Only debt and hold harmless millage rates for school districts may be corrected at this time. The LCSA Act does not allow any other millage rate errors to be corrected after August 1, 2023.  
  1. Form 5658 – Modification of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Personal Property Taxable Values Used for the 2023 Personal Property Tax Reimbursement Calculations
    1. Municipality submission deadline to Treasury: March 31, 2024
    2. Note: Per the LCSA Act, the 2013, 2014, and 2015 personal property taxable values may only be modified because of a personal property reclassification or municipal boundary change.

The corrections reported on Form 5651, Form 5654, and Form 5658 will be used in the calculation of the May 2024 distribution of the 2023 PPT reimbursements.

Please direct any questions regarding the PPT reimbursement correction process to TreasORTAPPT@michigan.gov or 517-335-7484.

Webinar will review resources of new grants hub

Amid the unprecedented number of funding opportunities for local governments, there’s a critical need for communities to effectively track, plan and apply for grants. For many, navigating this process exceeds their capacity.

Enter MI Funding Hub: Your one-stop shop for finding and receiving support on grants.

Through support from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, MI Funding Hub will provide communities with resources to capitalize on state and federal funding opportunities. Launching this spring, the hub will include an online grant-tracking tool as well as technical assistance for communities to identify, plan, and apply for grants.

Join for an explanatory webinar on Feb. 29 at 10 a.m. to:

  • Learn more about MI Funding Hub and meet the partners behind this initiative 
  • Explore how you can take advantage of these resources 
  • Weigh in on what grant resources would help your community the most

Click here to register.

Governor’s FY25 budget proposal looks promising for counties

A state General Fund budget proposal of $14 billion that includes a $26 million boost in county revenue sharing for fiscal 2025 received praise this week from the Michigan Association of Counties.

“In light of the fact the governor is proposing a smaller General Fund amount for FY25 than what was budgeted for FY24, this is a good budget recommendation from our perspective,” said Stephan W. Currie, executive director. “We asked for increases in revenue sharing, funding for juvenile justice facilities and staff, Medicaid coverage for inmates, stormwater infrastructure funding and full funding for indigent defense obligations. On pretty much every point, we see good news in the governor’s proposals.”

Revenue sharing

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls for $281.2 million for county revenue sharing, with increases set in a mix of unrestricted and restricted formats. If approved, this amount would represent a $26 million boost from the FY24 baseline amount.

Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth, however, cautioned that this amount is the starting point of budget talks, noting that last year’s budget work began with a large revenue sharing boost that was trimmed by the Legislature.

“We have to watch it through the entire process very, very closely,” she said.

The governor’s plan also did not reference the creation of a dedicated and secured Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, a MAC priority for 2024, but Bosworth said the progress made last year in the Legislature on that issue is a good sign for eventual passage.

Juvenile justice

Significant funding is recommended to address the juvenile justice bed shortage crisis and implement recommendations from the state’s Juvenile Justice Task Force:

  • $38 million for in-patient child care payment methodology to assist with capacity issues
  • $3.5 million for juvenile staff and programming
  • $5 million for capital expenditures for juvenile facilities

Courts and jails

Whitmer’s plans in the criminal justice sphere are headlined by a $30.5 million allotment to cover health services for jail inmates slated for release who would otherwise be eligible for federal Medicaid coverage. This amount would be in service of a state effort to get a so-called Section 1115 Re-entry Waiver from the federal government to relieve counties of health care costs they now bear due to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy.

Reform of that policy is a MAC priority for 2024, so the governor’s budget is exciting news, said Governmental Affairs Associate Samantha Gibson.

Also notable in this realm are an Increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate for behavioral health, additional funding for public safety officers and first responders for mental health treatment and new judges for Kent and Macomb counties.

The budget also calls for full funding for the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission’s (MIDC) work, but Gibson noted that this does not include an expansion of MIDC services to juvenile defendants.

Infrastructure

MAC was pleased to see a $15 million allotment for stormwater improvements, said Governmental Affairs Associate Madeline Fata.

But the FY25 plan has no additional funding for roads outside the PA 51 funding formula, she noted, despite the fact Michigan has a $3.9 billion annual deficit for road funding.

“MAC is a part of two separate coalitions trying to find new revenue sources for road funding,” Fata said. “We’re exploring a multitude of options.”

In what is sure to be a highly debated move at the State Capitol, Whitmer seeks a 1,289 percent increase in the tipping fees to place waste in landfills, moving it from 36 cents to $5 per ton. This would raise $80 million for environmental remediation efforts, recycling and landfill operations.

Additional coverage of the budget proposal will be released on Monday in the latest episode of MAC’s Podcast 83. Look for the episode alert in your email before noon on Feb. 12.

For questions on MAC’s budget advocacy, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Treasury sets next ‘Chart Chat’ for Feb. 22

The Michigan Department of Treasury will hold its next Chart Chat webinar at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22

The Chart Chat webinar series provides local governments with critical information related to accounting and auditing topics, measuring local government fiscal health, and other important updates from Treasury.

Topics covered will include:

  • Budget Manual
  • Numbered Letters Update  
  • Deficit Elimination Process 
  • Uniform Assumptions FY 2024

Participants can register and submit questions prior to the webinar by clicking here.

Presentations and recordings from this webinar, along with previous webinars, can be found at TREASURY – BLGSS Learning Center. Utilize TREASURY – Contact Information for support related to Treasury’s local government services. 

 

MAC sets federal legislative priorities in 2024

In advance of next week’s National Association of Counties gathering in Washington, D.C., MAC has finalized its legislative priorities for 2024 on Capitol Hill. (Click here for downloadable PDF of the list.)

“Proper funding for PILT, of course, is a perennial agenda item for MAC, as Michigan has the second-largest amount of untaxable land of the states east of the Mississippi River,” said Deena Bosworth, director of governmental affairs. “And we will be pushing hard, along with NACo, for Congress to reform the Medicaid Exclusion Policy that leaves county taxpayers footing the bill for health services for jail inmates who have not received adjudication.”

Full Funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program

  • MAC and NACo support restoring full mandatory funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which compensates counties for untaxable federal land.
  • The Permanently Authorizing PILT Act (H.R. 3043) would permanently authorize the PILT program.
  • R. 3043 would add boilerplate to U.S. code to permanently and automatically fund PILT.
  • The PILT Reauthorization Act (S. 2480) would authorize federal PILT for 10 years.

Reasonable Health Care Cost-sharing for County Jail Inmates

  • Access to federal health benefits for non-convicted individuals would allow for improved coordination of care and decrease short-term costs to local taxpayers and long-term costs to the federal government.
  • Providing access to federal health benefits for those awaiting trial and verdict decisions would help counties break the cycle of recidivism caused or exacerbated by untreated mental illness and/or substance use disorders, thereby improving public safety.
  • While federal legislation to address necessary reforms to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) is under way, MAC supports requiring the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a Medicaid Section 1115 re-entry waiver to reinstate Medicaid benefits for incarcerated individuals prior to release from county jails.

Renewal of the Affordable Connectivity Program

  • The Affordable Connectivity Program launched in 2022, which offers discounted broadband service to low-income households, is set to expire in April 2024.
  • More than 20 million eligible households have enrolled. Broadband is essential for accessing health care, education, and employment.
  • MAC and NACo urge Congress to extend funding for the program so low-income households can continue accessing the internet at a reduced rate.

For questions on MAC’s federal advocacy efforts, visit our advocacy center or contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Tweaked House maps won’t shift state partisan landscape, expert says

Changes to Michigan House lines mandated by a federal court will result in more compact districts in the city of Detroit, but they will not fundamentally alter the current partisan balance of the House of Representatives, an elections expert said in the latest episode of Podcast 83.

Matt Grossman, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, discussed with host Stephan Currie the ongoing map work by the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission. “(F)ederal courts struck down several districts in the Detroit area in the state House … for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by predominantly using race as a reason to draw those districts,” Grossman explained. “So now the commission has been asked to go back and redraw those districts and anything else that is reasonably necessary surrounding those districts to get new house maps for use in the elections this year.

Grossman expects the new lines to result in fewer districts reaching out from Detroit “across Eight Mile Road” and the changes to be confined to the city of Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs.

What won’t really come into play with the changes, Grossman said, is the knife’s-edge partisan balance of the Michigan House, which shifted to a 56-54 Democratic majority after the 2022 elections that used the commission’s original maps.

“The new maps led to the statewide winner of more votes, which was the Democratic Party in the last election, getting a majority in the Legislature to match that statewide majority. … We don’t expect this redrawing to affect that. … We’re talking about — at the most — a half a district difference in partisan composition between the maps that are done now and the maps that will be done after this. … There’s a belief that Detroit was divided up in order to achieve that statewide partisan fairness; that’s not really true,” Grossman said.

View the full video of the episode, recorded on Jan. 30, by clicking here.

Previous episodes can be seen at MAC’s YouTube Channel.

And you always can find details about Podcast 83 on the MAC website.

 

State to get nearly $12 million in latest opioid settlement

The state of Michigan is expected to receive an additional $11.7 million from a national settlement with Publicis Health, a global marketing and communications firm. Funds from this settlement will only be directed to the state government and do not include a requirement to distribute funds to the community.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the settlement Thursday with Publicis Health to resolve investigations into the global marketing and communications firm’s role in the prescription opioid crisis.

“The filings in the Wayne County Circuit Court describe how Publicis’ work contributed to the crisis by helping Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers market and sell opioids,” the Attorney General’s Office stated. “Court documents detail how Publicis acted as Purdue’s agency of record for all its branded opioid drugs, including OxyContin, even developing sales tactics that relied on farming data from recordings of personal health-related in-office conversations between patients and providers. The company was also instrumental in Purdue’s decision to market OxyContin to providers in patient’s electronic health records.  

“According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, between the years 2000 and 2020, the opioid death rate in Michigan increased on average 13.9 percent each year. These deaths — and the impacts on thousands who have struggled with opioid addiction — have created considerable costs for our health care, child welfare and criminal justice systems.”

For more information on MAC’s opioid settlement advisory work, contact Amy Dolinky at dolinky@micounties.org.

 

MDOT will pay you $10 for your views about infrastructure

The Michigan Department of Transportation is studying possible changes to how our transportation infrastructure is funded. “As we move toward a low-emission future with electric vehicles and new types of fuels, we need to explore fairer, more sustainable ways to continue to fund and maintain our roads, bridges and public transit systems,” the department says. “This study explores road usage charges, which means that instead of paying state fuel taxes, you would pay a few cents for each mile you drive. To learn more about road usage charges, complete the survey, which includes an informative video.”

The study is currently seeking input from the public. “We want to hear from you regarding the fairest ways to pay for our transportation system. Michigan residents aged 18+ who complete the survey will receive a $10 gift card to thank you for your time.”

Terms and conditions apply. Read the full terms and conditions.

 

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