Posts Tagged ‘local government’
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
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.
MAC Director of Governmental Affairs
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
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2009, MAC partnered with the Michigan Energy Office (MEO)
, Michigan Townships Association
(MTA) and the
Michigan Municipal League (MML) to launch the Green Communities Challenge
, which measured local government progress toward energy efficiency. In the ensuing years, the program has seen a number of significant changes, including a move to a web-based checklist format, the addition of new partner organizations and an expansion of topics covered beyond energy efficiency. After a series of successful statewide conferences and other educational events, which included participation from more than 130 local governments, the supporting organizations started to view the Challenge as one component of a broader program, the Michigan Green Communities network
, designed to connect leaders from around the state and help them learn from one another.
Until now, this network has been largely an informal and unofficial entity, held together by verbal agreements and the common vision of a number of individuals. Today Michigan Green Communities is supported by six statewide organizations that have signed a formal memorandum of understanding: MML, MEO, MTA, MAC, the Department of Environmental Quality
and the MML Foundation
. Those organizations have agreed to commit staff time and other resources to the program, which will be led by a steering committee of local government leaders. The MML Foundation has agreed to serve as the fiduciary for Michigan Green Communities.
The Michigan Green Communities network continues to grow, so visit http://mml.org/green/
to get your community or organization involved and to keep up on the latest program updates. Thank you to all the communities and organizations that have supported this initiative from 2009 to today.