The National Association of Counties (NACo) legislative conference was held this week in Washington D.C..  As part of this annual conference, MAC meets with our congressional delegation to talk about federal issues affecting counties.  This year the major topics for discussion included:
  • The Farm Bill and PILT Payments
  • Tax Exempt Municipal Bonds
  • Waters of the U.S. Guidance Proposal – Federal Overreach to Control Michigan Waters
  • Medicaid Expansion and Medicaid Coverage for Pre-Trial Detainees
  • Federal MAP-21 Transportation Funding and;
  • Marketplace Fairness (sales tax on e-commerce)
MAC would especially like to thank Senators Levin and Stabenow for their consistent dedication to meeting with all of our conference attendees each year to discuss issues of importance to counties.  This annual tradition affords our commissioners quality time to have questions answered and to relay upcoming issues of concern to Michigan counties.  If you would like more information about the issues MAC members discussed with their congressmen, please follow this link to our federal briefing sheet: 2014 MAC Federal Briefing Sheet
 
The Michigan Association of Counties (M.A.C.) would like to thank the Snyder administration and key legislators in the House and Senate for their new approach to personal property tax (PPT) reforms.  Today the House and Senate introduced legislation that will provide for 100% reimbursement to counties stemming from local revenue losses associated with the reform of PPT. The proposed legislation will make several clarifications to the law and amend the August ballot proposal language to increase budget stability for local communities and assist businesses in creating more jobs. “We are glad the administration recognizes the value counties provide to Michigan residents, and we are eager to partner with the legislature to spur economic growth by supporting this tax reform,” said M.A.C. Director of Governmental Affairs, Deena Bosworth. “Replacement of this local revenue source is key to providing good communities where businesses and residents can thrive.” These changes still require a vote of the people in the August primary, but retain the provision that if the ballot proposal does not pass, both the tax reform and the local reimbursement reform are repealed. M.A.C. looks forward to working with the legislature to ensure local communities are provided with stable revenue while continuing to support the growth of Michigan’s economy.
Antrim County Commissioner, Mike Crawford (left) preparing to speak about the PPT reform after Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (right)

Antrim County Commissioner, Mike Crawford (left) preparing to speak about the PPT reform after Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (right)

Antrim County Commissioner, Mike Crawford

Antrim County Commissioner, Mike Crawford

 
Today, the Michigan Senate allocated $100 million of surplus dollars toward winter road repairs. The additional funds will be distributed as $39.1 million to MDOT, $39.1 million to county road agencies and $21.8 million to municipalities. The Michigan Association of Counties (M.A.C.) would like to thank the Senate for allocating the extra funds for special winter road maintenance. The additional funding, which comes from the Roads and Risks Reserve Fund created for the current budget year, will help local governments and MDOT with the rapid deterioration of roads as a result of one of the coldest and snowiest winters in Michigan history. “We recognize that the damage to Michigan roads is going to be the worst in many years and while we still support a permanent increase in funding, we appreciate the Senate taking steps in the right direction,” said M.A.C. Deputy Director, Steve Currie. “This funding will go a long way in helping locals with the growing pothole problem, and we anticipate members of the House and the governor will realize the need as well.” The bill now heads to the House for approval.

2014 MAC Priorities

The following list of our top five priorities for 2014 represents many of the policy and funding issues MAC is pursuing, but in no way is an exhaustive list of the issues we advocate for on behalf of counties.     Full Funding for County Revenue Sharing:
  • Revenue sharing is a statutory obligation on behalf of the state, established in the 1960’s when counties gave up local taxing authority.
  • Counties made an agreement with the state to forego revenue sharing to help balance the state’s budget with the understanding that full funding would return to each county once their reserve accounts were exhausted.  This deal has only been honored once since 2005.
  • MAC will advocate for full county revenue sharing.
Prevent Future Unfunded Mandates:
  • In 2009, the Legislative Commission on Unfunded Mandates determined that more than $2.5 billion in services that can be measured, and billions more that cannot be measured, are provided by local units of government for free to the state of Michigan through unfunded mandates. 
  • There is little that can be done about past state violations of the Constitution, however legislation can and should be enacted that would require the state legislature to pay for any new mandates it imposes on counties before compliance would be required.  Bills are SB 495 – 498 and HB 5059 – 5060.
  • MAC is leading the charge to enact unfunded mandates legislation along with Senators Casperson, Robertson, Jansen and Meekhof.  Representatives Kowall and Walsh are heading up the package in the House.   
Reform Tax Capture Statutes:
  • Currently counties have limited say in the length and financial scope of tax capture districts. 
  • MAC is working with the House, Senate and the administration to ensure that counties have a voice in the economic development activities in their region by strengthening their voice in the tax capture and abatement process.
  • MAC’s goals are to allow for counties to negotiate how much revenue is captured, to prevent the capture of special millages and to have a seat on the board of these districts.
Closing the Big Box/Dark Store Tax Loophole
  • Many big box retailers have been appealing their property tax assessments to the Michigan Tax Tribunal by challenging the “true cash value” of their properties.
  • In the majority of the cases, the valuation methods being put forth equate the value of a vibrant, profitable operating business (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) with a closed, dark, and abandoned commercial property.
  • MAC is working very closely with members of the House and Senate to find a fair, equitable and consistent way to value these properties so that each business actually pays their share of property taxes. 
 Consistent and Reliable Transportation Funding
  • Michigan’s roads and crumbling infrastructure costs us more money each year, stifles economic growth and is in part to blame for many traffic accidents.
MAC supports increasing revenue to aid in repairing and improving the state’s ailing infrastructure. MAC’s preferred method of raising revenue is through a 1% increase in sales tax devoted strictly to infrastructure improvements and to be distributed by current PA 51 formula. Download Priorities here: MAC 2014 Priorites
Register now for the 2014 MAC Legislative Conference in Lansing at the Radisson Hotel and Lansing Center on March 24-26. Enjoy networking, educational breakout sessions, a chance to meet with your legislators and more!
Early bird registration ends on March 6th!
You can view the full agenda here: MAC Conf Attendee Booklet