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: https://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.
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.
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.
In a guest commentary Sept. 5 on MLive.com, MAC’s incoming president, Allegan County Commissioner Jon Campbell, issues an alert to Michigan residents about the court funding crisis created by the Cunningham ruling: “Legislators will have a full agenda in September; however, a permanent, stable, fair fix to court funding has to be at the top of the list.” The chart below shows the annual projected impact of the ruling, if it is not changed, for several counties across the state that responded to a MAC survey. court cost chart*Circuit court costs only    
Trunkline conditions chart 9-2-14Why is MAC pushing so hard to get the Legislature to provide a statewide vote on a 1-cent sales tax for transportation? Take a look at the chart above, particularly the dotted portion of the green line. Trunkline roads are transportation speak for main roads. These are the roadways that carry our commerce, our schoolchildren, our work force and our emergency vehicles. If your main roads are bad, expect life to be harder all the way around. And while the vast majority of Michigan’s trunkline roads are deemed in good shape today, the trend is ominous indeed, according to the state Transportation Department. By the end of this decade, fewer than half of such roads would be in good or fair shape, if additional resources are not found. County and local road officials can work as hard as they can and be as clever as possible to stretch a dollar to fix local roads, but that work will mean much less if the major roads aren’t maintained. The MAC Board of Directors, aware of these trends, voted at the beginning of the year to have MAC staffers make the case for a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax – a penny for the roads – to generate vital new dollars. See more about the importance and condition of Michigan roads at http://milocalroads.com/ .
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