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League Members Fight for Funding
Michigan Municipal League officials testify before Michigan Legislators on revenue sharing and transportation on behalf of Michigan communities
Revenue Sharing Hearing
Jenks explained that communities have absorbed Draconian cuts for the past nine years and the results of this have been devastating. Without adequate funding, local officials cannot create the types of communities where people want to live, work and play.
“By continuing to cut revenue sharing you are affirmatively choosing to send previously dedicated funding away from police officers, firefighters, road repair, parks and recreation. We continuously hear from legislators that revenue sharing is a priority…. Make it a priority,” he said.
Jenks said cities and villages in Michigan have accommodated the continuous reduction in revenues and have found ways to cut their budgets, but this is getting increasingly difficult as property values decline.
“There are many communities across the state whose property values have dropped by more than 20 percent each year for the past couple of years. This has resulted in an actual loss of revenue in property tax collections for the first time in our state’s history,” he said.
Karen Majewski told members of the subcommittee that the city of Hamtramck has absorbed an extensive decrease in revenue and they have been working to accommodate this.
“We’ve made cuts to staff and programs, we’ve raised fees, we’ve gone to our employees for concessions, we’ve sought grants and alternative funding streams, we’ve privatized services, we’ve delayed capital projects and skimped on road repair, we’ve found ways to share services with other communities and we’ve prayed it doesn’t snow,” she said. “But it’s an uphill climb, made increasingly unsteady when at every step forward, the ground is sinking beneath our feet.”
Senate subcommittee members seemed impressed with the testimony as Sen. Deb. Cherry, D-Burton, complimented Jenks and Majewski for explaining how communities have made cuts. Cherry said she’d like to give communities more than a 1 percent increase to revenue sharing.
Road Funding Hearing
“Whether it’s roads and bridges or public transit, when a state invests in transportation, the result is the creation of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic development activity,” he said.
Jenks also reminded lawmakers they have yet to implement the recommendations of the Transportation Funding Task Force created by Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Legislature in 2007.
“This group of Michigan government, business and transportation leaders worked for months at public meetings across the state and concluded in 2008 that the consequences to Michigan, if action is not taken to address the need for increased transportation investment, are dire indeed and that this inaction puts more than 17,000 jobs at risk,” he said.
Jenks was joined by Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell, Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber, Lansing Public Services Director Chad Gamble, League CEO Dan Gilmartin, and League staff member Chris Hackbarth.
Driskell was the League’s representative on the transportation task force and said the recommendations were based on solid research. She said it’s been 18 months since the report was released and action is needed to help revive Michigan.
For more information on the revenue sharing issue contact the League’s Summer Minnick at (517) 908-0301 and for details on the transportation funding issue contact the League’s Chris Hackbarth at (517) 908-0303.