Local governments and school districts would not be required to follow any state-imposed mandate until state dollars are put toward covering the cost of that mandate, under a legislative package that received its first hearing today in a Senate committee.
County officials told the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee today that Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0495Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0496Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0497 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0498 end years of unfunded mandates passed down from the state on a “go forward basis.” It would not apply to the many past unfunded mandates locals and school districts feel they’ve been hit with through the years that they don’t have the money to fight in court. Ottawa County Administrator Alan VANDERBERG called the legislation a “great compromise” in the sense that the state has imposed $1 billion in new mandates on county governments since the Headlee Amendment allegedly ended the practice in 1978. The legislation would end the new mandates, which on its own is a “huge win for local governments,” he said. The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) has been leading the charge on a bill package that follows a 2009 recommendation from the Legislative Commission on Statutory Mandates on ways to end unfunded mandates from the state to local governments. A 2010 report from this group found that local governments are on the hook for up to $2.6 billion in unfunded mandates for that year alone (See “Report: Locals Slapped With $2.6B In Unfunded Mandates,” 2/24/10). http://www.mirsnews.com/capsule.php?gid=3269#22841 “We believe that unfunded mandates are just as inappropriate when the federal government does it to the state as when the state does it to local government,” said Sen. Tom CASPERSON (R-Escanaba), the sponsor of the lead bill in the package, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0495. Marquette County Administrator Scott ERBISCH spoke of the hardships of declining state dollars at a time when a majority of their revenues go to services — like the courts, health and the jail — continue to go up. In 2011, 22 percent of the county’s general fund came from state sources. In 2013, that was down to 13 percent. From 2001 to 2013, the direct cost to operate the courts rose 23 percent while state funding to operate the courts has decreased by 20 percent. “We ask for your consideration. We support them. We’re looking forward and not backwards.” The unfunded mandates can be as small as an EMS bill that requires further training for those personnel who deal with opiate overdoses or that counties only purchase U.S. flags that are made in the United States, said Deena BOSWORTH of the Michigan Association of Counties. They can also be as large as the increase in costs for public health department to implement a “fantastic public policy” change as the smoking ban. Alger County is a small county that is struggling to get by with its population of less than 10,000 people, said Alger County Commissioner Jerry DOUCETTE. The state is forcing their inmates on the counties for longer periods of time. Meanwhile townships are running so many millages, it’s not advantage for the county to try one its own. “Remember, our state is made up of a lot of small counties,” Doucette said.
-From MIRS Capitol Capsule, Wednesday, April 30,2014 http://www.mirsnews.com/capsule.php?gid=4322#39316
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The Michigan Association of Counties (M.A.C.) presented Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Washtenaw County) and Representative Wayne Schmidt (R-Grand Traverse County) with the M.A.C. County Advocate Award at the 2014 M.A.C. Legislative Conference in Lansing. This award is given annually to legislators who have shown strong support for county interests. Senator Warren was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2006 where she served for four years representing the 53rd District. Now in her first term as State Senator, Warren was recognized as a county advocate for her participation on the Michigan Mental Health Commission and her recent sponsorship of the Personal Property Tax legislation. “M.A.C. is an important voice for our local communities. I am honored to have been named a M.A.C. Advocate for my work in the Legislature, as I firmly believe that strengthening our local communities is integral to moving our state forward,” said Warren. Representative Schmidt was elected to the House in 2008 and is now in his third term representing District 104. Having previously served as a Grand Traverse County commissioner for five terms, Schmidt was recognized for his work to resolve the infrastructure funding crisis, and his consistency in working to help county government. “I am truly honored to be recognized by M.A.C. with this award for the work I’ve done on behalf of northern Michigan,” said Representative Wayne Schmidt. “My experience with local government as both a Grand Traverse County commissioner and small businessman offered firsthand knowledge of what it takes to run an effective and efficient county, and I have been proud to work with M.A.C. as a state legislator to solve the issues that our counties face.” “M.A.C. thanks Senator Warren and Representative Schmidt for their continued support,” said M.A.C. Board of Directors President Shelly Pinkelman. “A continued partnership between local and state government is essential for the success of Michigan.”
By the time this article goes to print the newer version of personal property tax (PPT) reform should be on the governor’s desk for his signature.  After decades of debate and multiple approaches to eliminate this complicated and cumbersome tax, local governments and businesses alike have agreed on an approach to reform and lessen the tax on small businesses and industrial manufacturing businesses in Michigan and ease the administrative burden for all involved. This reform represents significant tax relief for small businesses and industrial manufacturing businesses, 100% reimbursement to local units and a structural reimbursement method that avoids the unreliable appropriations process. The first round of reform was signed into law in December 2012 and would have provided reimbursement to local governments at a rate of 80%, with the local option of an essential services tax to increase that level of reimbursement for losses associated with police, fire, ambulance and jail services.  Although this was the best offer from the state at the time, local governments, including counties, were not happy with the overall level of reimbursement and the local assessment approach. So the administration went back to the drawing board and came up with additional funding and a plan to eliminate the local assessment piece.  The major components of the new approach include a statewide essential services tax collected by the state, 100% reimbursement to local units, voter approval of a diversion of the state’s use tax, and a delayed dynamic reimbursement formula aimed at recognizing the movement of industry throughout the state. Reimbursement to local units Under the new plan, all local units of government will receive 100% reimbursement for losses associated with this reform beginning in 2016.  The losses to counties for the small parcel exemptions already enacted will not be reimbursed in 2014 or 2015, but will start once the larger exemptions go into effect in 2016.   Expiring business tax credits beginning in 2016 will create available funds in the state’s general fund to pay for this reimbursement.  These credits, along with the enactment of the State Essential Services Assessment will cover most of the cost of the reimbursement to locals.  But even with utilizing all of these funds, the state will still face a shortfall in the general fund of approximately $126 million in 2022. Priority Reimbursements Because of the deals struck in 2012 and the basic structure of the reimbursement formulas, priority reimbursements for certain losses (static formula) will be taken off the top before the calculations for the dynamic formula go into play.  The dynamic formula is explained in detail below. Priority reimbursements include: small parcel losses (a major benefit to those units with lots of smaller businesses), school debt loss, losses to intermediate school districts, school district losses not reimbursed by increased payments from the School Aid Fund, losses associated with essential services (police, fire, ambulance and jails), and debt loss to tax capture authorities.  Once these items in the static formula are paid out, local units will receive 100% reimbursement for the rest of their losses until the dynamic formula kicks in, beginning in 2020. Dynamic Formula Beginning in 2020, and increasing by the same amount each year, 5% of the remaining reimbursement, after the priority reimbursement, will be distributed proportionately based on each local unit’s share of the exempt manufacturing personal property.   This dynamic formula will recognize a “profit sharing” type scenario that is intended to recognize the movement of industry throughout the state while still providing support for struggling counties that are losing industry.  This represents virtually the same situation as if local units were still taxing the property at a local level.  If a local unit has a certain amount of personal property in 2013, they may have more or less than that amount in 2025.  If we only received reimbursement based on what was on the ground in a local unit in 2013, reimbursement would not be based on loss, but for what existed in one point in time. The Ballot and How Counties Can Help In August 2014, voters will be asked to approve a ballot proposal that would divide up the state’s use tax into two different pots of money, the “state share tax” and the “local community stabilization share tax.”  A certain amount of money will be diverted from the state’s general fund to the “Local Community Stabilization Authority” that is charged with reimbursing local units for their losses associated with PPT.  This authority will be required to reimburse based on the formulas enacted via this legislative package. If the bills pass as planned with all of the reimbursement formulas intact, the MAC board has voted to support the ballot proposal in August.  The MAC board made this decision in part because the administration found a way to provide a stable and enhanced level of funding reimbursements to counties.   In addition, they are well aware of the potential effects of leaving an important and unresolved issue hanging out there during a lame duck session.  Anything can happen.  During the last lame duck session, we were almost faced with the complete elimination of PPT with no reimbursement plan at all.  If the ballot proposal passes in August, all of the reforms and the reimbursement formulas go into effect.  If the measure fails at the ballot, then the reforms and reimbursement do not go into effect and we are back at the drawing board.  Although it is a complicated ballot question, the intention is simple; divert money from the general fund for the authority to reimburse locals.  The general electorate may or may not understand the issue, so it is incumbent upon the supporters of the measure to educate their constituents.  Short of a constitutional amendment, this approach is the best alternative we have to an annual appropriations battle. UPDATE: Governor Signs PPT bills 3-28-14 The bills amending the Personal Property Tax (PPT) reform package were signed into law today by Governor Snyder.  SB 821 – 830 amend various acts to create a better reimbursement formula for local units of government should the electorate pass the ballot proposal this August.  Counties, cities, townships, school districts, law enforcement and the business community were all present for the ceremonial bill signing this afternoon.  See previous articles and the monthly newsletter for all the details on the reform or call MAC for more information. IMG_8405
Posted by Kyle Leppek on March 5th, 2014 If awarded, $99,000 grant would use digital marketing LAKE CO. — Next month, county officials hope to hear that they have be awarded a nearly $100,000 grant to market Lake County as an off-road vehicle tourist destination. On Feb. 28 a grant application was submitted by the Lake County Board of Commissioners to the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development seeking a $99,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant. If the county is awarded the grant in April, the money will be used to brand the county as an ORV tourist destination through mostly digital media. The approximately 400 page application included assistance from the Michigan Association of Counties, county prosecutor and his staff, county clerk and her staff, county treasurer and her staff, local businesses and board of commissioners. It even involved finding the public act that formed Lake County in 1871 from the state archives. HISTORY: Pictured is part of the original public act that formed Lake County in 1871. It was included in the county’s grant application and had to be retrieved from the state archives. (Courtesy photo) “It was a real team effort in terms of everybody that helped kick in to get this done,” said Commissioner Dan Sloan. Originally, the county was seeking a $100,000 grant, but that changed after the applicants realized they would score higher on the application if the amount requested was less than $100,000. Lake County’s application also is expected to score higher because of some of the challenges residents face. “The fact that we are a county that has a lot of challenges in terms of a high poverty rate and high unemployment rate, and those are chronic, those give us greater scores than other counties,” Sloan said. “They enhance our chances of getting assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.” If the county is awarded the grant, implementing its proposal would be a two year process. The county would use the money to establish a website, for video and photography production, create digital and print ads and other Internet related marketing. The first year would likely be spent getting everything up and running, while the following year would be a fully operational marketing campaign. While the county would be the fiduciary, a committee consisting of county government officials and business owners would be formed to oversee the program. The hope is if residents like the program that they will continue to support it after the grant period. Included in the application we letters from more than 30 Lake County businesses which employ more than 200 people supporting the grant. While the grant is specifically aimed toward ORV tourism, Sloan sees it helping a broad range of businesses throughout the county. “If we can get more people in the county, we know that it is going to help our businesses; they will stop and spend some dollars,” Sloan said.
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