WUOMFM

michigan municipal league

Dearborn Mayor John B. “Jack” O’Reilly, Jr.
(courtesy City of Dearborn)

When Republicans pushed through a campaign finance bill at the end of last year’s Michigan Legislative session, it was met with little resistance. In fact, many would be hard-pressed to remember what exactly the bill was attempting to fix. 

The provision, which was added just hours before the last session of the year closed, banned any public body or most public officials from using public money to spread factual information about local ballot measures in the 60-day run-up to an election. 

user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

Local governments in Michigan are not happy about some last-minute language added to a bill that just passed the state legislature.

Senate Bill 571 is mostly about campaign finance issues.

But tucked in at the very end of the bill is a provision that cities and townships argue amounts to a “gag rule” on them.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Police and firefighter unions are pushing to be exempt from a state law that puts limits on municipal union contracts.  

A state Senate committee takes up the bill Wednesday. 

It used to be that when municipal unions bargained a new contract that included a pay increase, those raises would be retroactive to when the last contract expired. 

wikipedia

The organization championing the interests of Michigan’s local governments is withholding judgment on a proposal to fix the state’s roads.

Officials with the Michigan Municipal League say they’re cautiously hopeful about the plan Republican State House leader Jase Bolger unveiled last week.

Michigan Municipal League

The Michigan Municipal League is supporting eight communities with development projects. Those projects are part of the PlacePlan program.

It's a partnership between Michigan State University, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan State Housing Authority. The projects are focused on increasing economic activity in those communities.

Luke Forest is with the Michigan Municipal League. He says these projects will make Michigan cities more attractive to employers and young people.

Legislation that will eliminate several hundred million dollars in taxes that businesses pay each year on equipment awaits Governor Rick Snyder’s signature. Michigan’s personal property tax applies to all kinds of things; car makers pay the tax on heavy machinery, restaurants pay it on new ovens and dishwashers.

The legislature voted early Friday morning to repeal the personal property tax and replace up to 80-percent of the lost revenue to local governments where the loss makes up more than 2.3-percent of the total tax revenue.

Michigan Municipal League

A plan to phase out Michigan’s Personal Property Tax—the tax on business equipment—is being rushed through the Michigan Legislature.

There are unanswered questions and not much time to get answers.

Businesses want to end the tax on equipment. The problem is many local governments rely heavily on that tax.

When a proposal was announced last week, it appeared phasing out the tax over ten years and a statewide vote to replace it with the state’s current use-tax revenue might work to replace the local governments’ lost revenues.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder has been busy touting Michigan as America’s “comeback state"--most recently at last week's Mackinac Island Policy Conference.

Unemployment is dropping as the US auto industry is booming again. And the state has a budget surplus for the first time in many years.

But many of Michigan’s local leaders say they’re not seeing any comeback.

 2012 may see an increase in the number of Michigan cities and towns combining services and working more closely together.    

Governor Snyder signed a package of bills in December that remove legal barriers for municipalities seeking to consolidate services and eliminate requirements maintaining labor contracts when creating new partnerships.     

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tomorrow, the Michigan Supreme Court will consider a rule change that could put local governments in a stronger position to challenge unfunded state mandates.  

The Headlee Amendment is a state constitutional amendment meant to reduce unfunded state mandates on local governments, like requiring but not necessarily providing extra money for special education programs. 

Forecasters say the snow is coming.  It’s expected to make travel hazardous on Michigan roads.

It’s also expected to cause another financial headache to many cash strapped Michigan cities and towns.

Anthony Minghine is the Associate Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League.

"Budgets have become so incredibly tight that these events become more and more difficult to absorb.  And again, depending on the magnitude of the storm, if it’s as big as it says, it could be a two to three day event, and you know, getting everything cleared and back up to speed it will become very costly for folks." 

Minghine says money spent now on snow removal is money that won’t be spent on road repair and other projects this Spring.