Posts Tagged ‘road commissions’

MAC logo blueytLANSING, Mich. – County officials across Michigan are ready to work with majority Republicans in the Michigan House on key elements of their 2015 “Action Plan,” which was released today in Lansing.

The Michigan Association of Counties, which represents the 622 county commissioners across the state, sees fertile ground to nurture reform on several issues that counties deal with on a daily basis:

  • Tax-capture reform: MAC is pleased that the House GOP noted that tax increment financing by municipalities “is leaving other levels of government collecting a fraction of what they otherwise would.” MAC has long worked at the State Capitol to bring fairness and collaboration to the tax-capture process.
  • Road commission merger authority: MAC agrees with House Republicans that, “The provisions in law that allow county boards of commissioners to consolidate their road commissions under the umbrella of general county government must be reinstated.” That authority expired at the end of 2014 and it should be a top priority for the Legislature to act on restoration in 2015.
  • Community mental health: “There is a continued need to further explore and evaluate policy and budgetary solutions to ensure that those with mental-health needs, and their loved ones, have access to quality and consistent care,” the plan states. Michigan counties know this all too well and will continue to educate policy-makers and the public on the nuances and demands of proper mental health services.
  • Sentencing reform: MAC understands and supports the need to reduce the prison budget’s huge bite on state resources, but changes in sentencing must be made in such a way that county jails and county taxpayers are not left holding the bill.
  • Veteran services: It’s vital to reverse the trends that have left Michigan near the bottom of national rankings on services to our veterans.
  • Public notices: Laws to ensure transparency written with 19th century techniques in mind should and can be updated to protect the public interest while reducing the financial burden on county coffers.

“We are generally pleased with the course being charted by the House leadership,” said Deena Bosworth, MAC’s director of governmental affairs. “And we stand ready to hammer out the details to make these goals into policy. But that requires a balancing act by lawmakers. For example, it’s great for them to urge a focus on the long-term liabilities of local governments, but they can’t, at the same time, be looking to enact more property tax exemptions that drain the very funds that local governments need to cover their liabilities.”

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For more information on MAC, go to www.micounties.org. Deena Bosworth is available to speak to the media on this topic. She can be reached at (800) 258-1152 or Bosworth@micounties.org.

DSC_0139.jpgWhile 2014 has been an outstanding year for MAC legislative initiatives (full revenue sharing funding, Cunningham court funding crisis averted), there always are debates that don’t play out so well. Which, of course, means a redoubling of our efforts in the coming legislative term.

This week, legislation to extend county authority to merge road commissions (House Bills 5117-18) was put on the shelf, meaning that the authority will expire on Dec. 31. We are disappointed in this result, but will look to address the issue again in the new legislative term.

Legislation altering the rules on tax increment financing, or “tax capture,” districts also stalled this fall.

We have been working throughout this legislative session on revisions to the TIF law, principally to ensure that counties always have the option on whether to have millage dollars captured by TIF districts, the length of time of that capture and the ability to partner with the authorities by having a seat at the table. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-Oakland), however, eventually was written in such a way that no real reform would result.

We expect to have new legislation filed early next year to incorporate the provisions for county authority and more reforms.

As always, the best way to stay on top of county issues at the Capitol is by being a subscriber to MAC’s weekly Legislative Update. If you are not receiving the updates, send a request and your email address to melot@micounties.org.

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