Millage elections, meeting mechanics, rural broadband among topics for 2018 MAC Regional Summits this summer

Each summer, MAC offers a series of one-day “mini conferences” at key locations around Michigan. These are designed for busy commissioners and administrators and include intensive briefings on trending issues in county governance.

This year’s schedule and locations are:

  • June 6: Escanaba, Quality Inn
  • June 11: Grand Rapids, Crowne Plaza on 28th Street
  • June 18: Gaylord, Treetops Resort
  • July 23: Frankenmuth, Bavarian Inn

Each summit starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 3 p.m. Cost is $25 and includes snacks and a lunch. CLICK  HERE to register.

Topics this year are wide-ranging, offering something of interest to every county and commissioner:

Tips for Running Efficient, Effective Meetings (all sites)
Time is a precious resource, especially for elected officials. Each minute spent in an unproductive meeting is a lost minute of community outreach and engagement. Fortunately, there are tips and tricks to running an efficient and productive meeting, helping lead to optimal governance. In this session, learn about ways to handle unexpected scenarios at a county meeting, as well as best practices for chairs and vice chairs. With solid objectives, a tight agenda, and a commitment to preparation, you will be well on your way to chairing great meetings. (This session is part of MAC’s “Better Commissioner” program of continuing education for county officials.)

Managing Liability and Risks in County Government (all sites)
(UPDATED)
An attorney working with the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, the largest provider of property and casualty insurance to counties in Michigan, will give an overview of best practices and points to consider on sexual harassment in the workplace and how public leaders can combat it.

The Mechanics of Millage Elections (all sites)
In this session, attendees will learn from Grassroots Midwest, a Lansing-based consulting firm, on the five key elements of a successful millage or bond proposal:

-Define the needs of the community
-Craft the core message
-Develop a media/communications campaign
-Contact/educate relevant stakeholders
-Get out the vote

Grassroots specializes in strategic planning to assist associations, municipalities and corporations organize and manage contact with policy makers, interest groups and voters. (This session is part of MAC’s “Better Commissioner” program of continuing education for county officials.)

The Issues of a Statewide Septic Code (all sites)
Michigan’s groundwater, rivers, lakes and streams are vulnerable to E. coli, in many cases due to failing on-site sewage treatment systems. Many counties have programs to address the inspection and the integrity of the septic tanks, but many do not. Bills in the Legislature would enact a statewide system for the approval and evaluation of these on-site sewage treatment systems. This presentation will discuss the environmental and health problems associated with the failure of these systems and the potential solutions for addressing the shortfalls.

Broadband Policies and Rural Michigan (Escanaba and Frankenmuth only)
This session will focus on rural development with an emphasis on rural connectivity. Due to the natural barriers that exist in our rural areas, access to services such as rural broadband presents an uphill challenge to our rural communities in retaining and attract businesses to create vibrant economies. Learn about ideas and ongoing initiatives and programs that may be available to help local communities be part of the global economy.

Building a Better Community “Habitat” (Grand Rapids and Gaylord only)
Habitat Oakland County teamed up with a local partnership from the church community, the chamber of commerce, a local marketing business and schools to create a community-based service project. In this session, learn from representatives on how they worked to obtain foreclosed properties and renovate them, thereby leading to higher property values and healthier neighborhoods. Presenters also will explain how any community can use their collaboration model to create a better “habitat.”

Supreme Court’s rejection of ‘Dark Stores’ appeal is recognition of problems in property tax system

Taxes-erased-xThe refusal by the Michigan Supreme Court to accept the appeal of a property tax case by the Big Box retailer Menard’s is recognition of the problems created by the “Dark Stores” theory of property valuation, the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) said today in reaction to the court’s order.

In May 2016, a unanimous panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals, in Menard, Inc. vs. City of Escanaba, expressly rejected the Tax Tribunal’s reliance on the “Dark Stores” method. Not only did the court find that the Tax Tribunal made a mistake of law, it also found that the tribunal didn’t properly perform its duty in evaluating evidence for determining value.

MAC’s Stephan Currie speaks with Frank Beckmann about Dark Stores issue.

The Supreme Court’s decision means the Court of Appeals ruling stands as precedent and must be followed. That court had ordered the Tax Tribunal to again review the case, taking additional evidence on proper valuation in doing so.

“This is a most promising development,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director. “The Tax Tribunal has to return to this matter and operate under the orders given by the Court of Appeals to properly assess the value of commercial property.” In this particular case, the tribunal had ruled the Menard property was worth 60 percent less than what Escanaba had determined via standard valuation practices.

MAC was one of several organizations filing amicus briefs in support of the city of Escanaba’s position in the case.

Under the Dark Stores method, the Tax Tribunal has reduced so many valuations of Big Box properties that local revenues to provide public services have been reduced by at least $100 million since 2013. This process is shifting more of the burden onto homeowners to fund the basic public services all Michigan communities and businesses utilize each day.

For more information on MAC, visit www.micounties.org.