Posts Tagged ‘government’

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
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
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