Posts Tagged ‘tax capture’

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.

Bosworth

Bosworth

MAC’s Deena Bosworth lays out the counties’ position on the need for tax-capture reform in this story from Port Huron on the workings of downtown development authorities in St. Clair County:

These are unelected officials that are spending money on whatever they see fit … It should not be up to an unelected board to capture however much tax money they want and use it however they see fit.”

Tax-capture reform will be a priority for MAC in the 2015 legislative session. As always, please be sure to share with us your local experiences and input via email to melot@micounties.org. The more data and experience we can provide lawmakers, the more powerful our lobbying effort becomes.

For more background on tax-capture laws and MAC’s position them, review this briefing paper. (Please note you must be a registered member of the MAC website to access MAC briefing papers and other key documents. Be sure to register today at http://www.micounties.org/index.php/private-site/login?view=registration)

The House Commerce Committee took testimony Wednesday on House Bill 5856 that would revamp state law on downtown development authorities — revamp, but not reform, argued MAC’s Deena Bosworth to committee members. According to the MIRS News Service (paywall protected) Bosworth “… said the bill ‘falls far short of what we consider real reform.’ “Bosworth argued the continued idea that TIF districts can capture county tax dollars without any say from the counties is ‘fundamentally unfair.’
Bosworth

Bosworth

“‘The proponents of downtown development authorities anywhere and everywhere across the state will tell you that that increased revenue would not be there if wasn’t for their efforts,’ Bosworth told the committee. ‘I happen to disagree.’ “Bosworth used the example of a Home Depot being built outside a true downtown through a DDA. Westland apparently used its DDA dollars to build a city hall, she said. “‘County revenue for municipal infrastructure projects, I don’t think that was the intention,’ Bosworth said. “Over the last 10 years, Oakland County has had $70 million in tax revenue captured. “‘Oakland County wants to have a say in how long they’re there, what projects are done and what county revenue is being captured for what purposes,’ Bosworth said. “Bosworth also told the committee that MAC had been promised ‘significant reforms.'”
Mlive continues its series on the use of tax increment financing in Michigan by telling the story of voters’ will thwarted in Ingham County: “Ingham County voters have approved countywide millages for things like the Potter Park Zoo, 911 operation and health care services. What those voters may not know is that 5.5 percent of the money they approved was actually captured for other purposes.”
Bosworth

Bosworth

The effects of poorly designed tax capture laws on county services was the topic of the second day of a special MLive series on tax increment financing, with MAC staffers making the case for obvious and immediate reforms. Commenting on a longstanding problem with downtown development authorities created decades ago, MAC’s Deena Bosworth said, “If something was created in 1980, we’re getting as much revenue from that property as we did in 1980.” MLive’s Emily Lawler also reported on the effects on special millages: “Little known to voters is that the capture can also come out of special millages. “For example, voters might approve a special millage for senior citizen services at the county level. If the county includes a tax capture district, that district is entitled to capture a portion of that millage – something that’s not included in the ballot language. As a result, some voters may not know that when they voted to increase senior services, they were also voting to give part of that increase to a DDA.” For example, in Bay County alone over the last decade, about $4.5 million in special millage funds have been diverted via tax capture. These funds would have gone to programs for everything from veterans and seniors to insect control and roads. Keep your eye on www.mlive.com and the blog all week for additional coverage of this issue.
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