Posts Tagged ‘counties’

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
LANSING, Mich. –With nearly a 1 billion dollar surplus projected, counties see this as the perfect time for the state to make good on its promise to pay back local units of government for their sacrifices to the state’s budget over the last decade. The state has balanced the budget on the backs of local government by siphoning off more than $6 billion from revenue sharing to local units over the last decade. Counties in particular, have been a selfless partner, saving the state more than a billion dollars since 2005. This budgetary concession was made in an effort to help the state with its budget problems, with the understanding that the state would honor their funding obligations in the future. This promise has not been fully honored and the state continues to short counties by more than 20% each year. Ignoring the statutory commitment to fund counties at the level required has become a habitual practice for the state. Counties are already stretched to their financial limit, making it difficult for them to pay for the multitude of state mandated services. County services may not be flashy, but they are critical for safe and functional communities. These state mandated services include courts, jails, 911, foster care, sheriffs, elections and the public health system. “The tide has turned for state revenues and we are thrilled Michigan is turning around,” said the Michigan Association of Counties (M.A.C.) Board of Directors President Shelley Pinkelman. “Unfortunately, local governments are at a disadvantage. Our ability to recover from the recent recession is disproportionately slower than it is for state government and without the state honoring their financial obligations to local units, we will continue to struggle to provide the most basic of local services. It is critical that the legislature recognizes this and honors their statutory obligation to fund local government services.” The legislature could allocate a mere $40 million to make counties whole in FY 2014. The current model of mandating counties to deliver services on behalf of the state government without paying for those services is unsustainable. After nearly a decade of the state shirking their financial responsibility to local governments, the time to repay is now.  
The Michigan legislature is on the verge of sending SB 636 to the governor that will take away the authority of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to oversee the discontinuance of basic landline telephone service and instead places that authority with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who has not been in the business of regulating Michigan telephone service. MAC, along with AARP, Law Enforcement, 911 Service providers and others oppose the bill for the following reasons:
  • The elimination of the requirement to provide basic landline service will inhibit the ability of many Michigan residents to call for emergency help.
  • Eliminating landline service and replacing it with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and cellular phone coverage is unreliable due to sketchy coverage, extended power outages and the inability of law enforcement to identify the exact location of the caller.
  • The bill calls for comparable and reliable service, but does not ensure comparable cost and will only require landline service if a consumer files a complaint with the MPSC. This places a significant burden on the consumer who likely does not know who the MPSC is nor how to file a complaint with them.
  • VOIP, the alternative to home phone landline service, requires a cable running to the house, but the build-out of this technology is not there yet, nor is there any guarantees that this will be completed prior to the discontinuance of landline service.
  • Cellular coverage may be available, but it is not reliable, cannot pinpoint location, and calls are often dropped at inopportune times.
  • There is nothing in the bill that would prohibit the providers from requiring a “bundled” service for access to a VOIP or cellular telephone line.
  • 911 service providers cannot access critical information about a call if it comes from a VOIP line or a cellular line.  Traditional land lines convey information about medical equipment, special needs children in the home, elderly in the home, and the like.
  • Michigan already has a statute that provides for a process for the landline provider to get out of providing the service, but the proponent of this legislation wants to avoid those requirements and skip Michigan’s oversight in favor of a further removed federal body.
Please contact your State Representative and ask them to put public safety first and vote no on SB 636. Landline Elimination Information Maps: SB 636 MPSC Slides

ACTION ALERT

Michigan County Commissioners 

Need to Take Action TODAY 

Federal PILT Funding in Jeopardy 

 Dear MAC Members, Below you will find information and 3 steps needed to take action on this critical issue.  The first action is to have all county commissioners sign on to a NACO letter of support for PILT funding.  The second action is to contact your Congressional House members and staff to urge them to fight for PILT funding.  The third action is being completed by MAC Executive Director Tim McGuire, who has personally called Sen. Stabenow to ask her to sign the letter; Sen. Levin has already signed on.  We need you to focus on steps 1 and 2; signing the letter and talking to House members. Please contact me with any questions you may have. Deena Bosworth MAC Director of Governmental Affairs 517-282-1647 bosworth@micounties.org

FY2014 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Payments in Jeopardy

 Urge Congress to Fund the PILT Program In the Final FY2014 Appropriations Measure

 Please join the National Association of Counties (NACo) in urging Congress to fund the PILT program! Congress has not yet acted to provide FY2014 funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program (administered through the U.S. Department of the Interior), which has caused much concern for counties that have already begun the budget process for next year. Without congressional action, counties will be forced to implement budget contingency plans-making cuts to critical local government services. Immediate Action Needed on PILT
1. NACo is sending a  letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders calling on them to fund PILT in FY2014. We need as many county officials, state associations of counties and other stakeholder groups to sign the letter as soon as possible!
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS TO YOUR NETWORKS!  Click here to view the letter and here to sign on.
2. Urge your House Members to contact House leaders and members of the House Appropriations Committee to request that PILT funding be included in the final FY2014 spending measure.
Click here to view a list and contact information for House Leaders and Members of the House Appropriations Committee. Staff contact information has been provided.
3. Urge your Senators to sign on to the PILT “Dear Colleague” letter sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY).
The deadline for Senators to sign on to the letter is this Friday, December 20. Click here to view the letter.
If your Senator would like to add their name to the letter, please have their congressional staff contact Darrin Munoz (Sen. Enzi) at Darrin_Munoz@enzi.senate.gov or Jeanette Lukens (Sen. Udall) at Jeanette_Lukens@tomudall.senate.gov. Background on PILT
The PILT program provides payments to counties and other local governments to offset losses in tax revenues due to the presence of tax-exempt federal land in their jurisdictions. Counties with federal land in their jurisdictions often provide vital services on those lands, such as solid waste management, search and rescue and emergency medical services. Any delay or reduction of PILT dollars will disrupt county operations. Counties nationwide request swift passage of legislation to extend mandatory PILT funding for FY2014 and beyond.
NACo Resources on PILT
  • To View NACo’s recently released presentation on PILT, click here 
  • To view NACo’s policy brief on PILT, click here
If you have any questions or comments, please contact NACo Associate Legislative Director Ryan Yates at ryates@naco.org or 202.942.4207

 Gov. Snyder presented his Fiscal Year 2014 budget today with a guaranteed funding increase for cities, villages, and townships (CVTs), while again disproportionately cutting revenue sharing to county government.

“It’s disappointing that the state continues to punish counties by consistently cutting their revenue sources,” said Thomas Bardwell, President of the Michigan Association of Counties (M.A.C.) Board of Directors.  “What they fail to realize is that counties cannot continue to provide all the services the state mandates if there is no funding for those services.” Ignoring the statutory commitment to fund counties at the level required has become a habitual practice for the state.  Counties are already stretched to their financial limit, making it difficult for them to pay for the multitude of state mandated services including the courts, jails, 911, indigent defense, sheriffs, constitutional officers, elections and the public health system. CVTs have been provided a 4% budget increase, and though it appears that funding for counties remains flat compared to last year, three additional counties are scheduled to come back into the revenue sharing formula this year, which current funding levels do not account for. Counties have saved the state more than a billion dollars since 2005 when they gave up revenue sharing temporarily.  This was in an effort to help the state with its budget problem, and the state promised a return of that funding once reserves were depleted.  Counties will continue to help the state budget until the final county exhausts its reserve account well past the year 2020. The current model of mandating counties to deliver services on behalf of the state government without paying for those services is unsustainable.  Counties look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to make sure that mandated services are funded.
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