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League Honors Leaders from Grand Rapids, Northville, East Grand Rapids and Rochester

clock April 12, 2013 13:13 by author Matt Bach


Outstanding Service Award Winners Brian Donovan, Jaymes Vettraino, Patrick Sullivan and Kara Wood. View more photos here and here.

LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan Municipal League honored four state officials during the League's annual Capital Conference held April 9-10 in Lansing.

Officials from Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Northville, and Rochester received the League's Outstanding Service Award on Wednesday (April 10, 2013). The honor recognizes those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in supporting the League's legislative efforts in Lansing on behalf of Michigan communities.

Here is a look at the recipients:

Brian Donovan, City Manager, East Grand Rapids; Pat Sullivan, City Manager, Northville; and Jaymes Vettraino, City Manager, Rochester: In their roles of city managers in their respective communities, Donovan, Sullivan and Vettraino have been instrumental in working on legislation to give communities additional pension flexibility. In the last session, they worked with the League on a package of legislation designed to maximize resources and allow communities to make more cost-effective pension decisions. Last fall the governor signed a bill that allows communities with an AA bond rating to bond for the cost of switching from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. The League continues to work on legislation allowing communities to switch from DB to DC more easily, as well as remove barriers to more cost-effective pensions. The three have come to Lansing to testify on multiple occasions, as well as worked regularly with the League reviewing legislative language and talking to legislators. They have been instrumental in working on this legislation, and the League is grateful for their invaluable counsel.

Kara Wood, Economic Development Director, Grand Rapids: In her role as Grand Rapids Economic Development Director, Kara Wood is a major voice in the League’s Land Use and Economic Development committee. Her knowledge and insight in many areas surrounding the economic development arena make her a strong advocate for the revitalization of not only Grand Rapids but Michigan as a whole. Wood has partaken in stakeholder workgroups at the state level, most recently a workgroup on a bill to make changes to the Brownfield program that was passed into law last year. Her expertise has been utilized to help many communities across Michigan by her participation in panel discussions on various economic development issues during concurrent sessions at both past and present League Capital Conferences. Wood’s assistance at the committee level and at an advocacy level is invaluable.

For additional photos of the Outstanding Service Awards go here. For more photos from the 2013 Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference go here.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at (734) 669-6317.

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Governor Snyder kicks off 2013 MML Capital Conference

clock April 9, 2013 22:08 by author aweinfeld


Governor Rick Snyder speaks at the 2013 Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference.

LANSING, Michigan - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder opened the 2013 MML Capital Conference discussing the differences he has discovered in running state government as compared to private business.

Noting that unlike a business, whose bottom line is about profit, government is about service and carries with it a much broader array of issues to be addressed than any private sector entity.  In a usual refrain however, the governor also noted that while government is not a business, neither is it a funding mechansim.

From there the governor settled into familiar themes about how government needs to be closer to its customers. As he has previously stated, the governor told the crowd that they need to be continue to be more efficient, that he wants to do more together to provide more value to our mutual customers and that points of difference shouldn't get in the way.

As is his custom, the governor took questions. Regarding a question about language in appropriations bills penalizing local governments for settling contracts prior to the effective date of the new right to work law, the governor said that while he didn't advocate for the language, he said he needs to be cognizant of the fact that such language was a priority of House Republicans, with whom he must negoitate a final bill.

The governor was also asked about the lack of an increase in revenue sharing given the state has a $500 million surplus. To that, the governor said the constitutional portion has increased. Regarding legality of the essential services assessment of the new personal property tax legislation, he would be willing to look at it but has take into consideration other opinions he might seek from the Supreme Court. In regards to the EVIP program, he said that the goal is not to make locals lives more difficult.

The governor also said that he isn't interested in taking credit or blame and just wants to address problems together. He reiterated his mantra of "relentless positive action" but one has to wonder if the governor really understands that no amount of "rpa" can diminish the fact that the ability of local offiicials to serve their customers continues to be negatively impacted by a broken municipal finance system.

Without such recognition and a renewed state/local partnership to address this important issue, the governor just might find a growing number of well-run communities with urgent budget issues sooner rather than later.

Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.

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Getting Tough on Transportation Session set for Capital Conference

clock April 5, 2013 16:00 by author Matt Bach


Senator Roger Kahn and Mike Nystrom of MI-TA will talk transportation at the Michigan Municipal League's 2013 Capital Conference.

LANSING, Michigan - Several experts on Michigan's transportation situation willl participate in the "Getting Tough on Transportation" education session at the Michigan Municipal League's 2013 Capital Conference April 10.

Farmington Hills City Manager Steve Brock, a member of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees, will moderate the session featuring Bill Hamilton, analyst for the House Fiscal Agency; Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, and Senate Appropriations Chair; Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association; and Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City and chair of the House transportation committee.

This is a very timely education session, because transportation funding continues to be at the top of the Michigan Municipal League’s legislative priority list for 2013. The discussion will focus on options for transportation funding, multi-modal transportation, and the importance of transportation in placemaking.

View the full Capital Conference agenda and register here. Also speaking at this year's Conference are Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan Budget Director John Nixon, Mitch Bean and Eric Lupher; and John Porcari, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation. View all the speakers.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org and (734) 669-6317.

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Finance Experts to Lead Budget Discussion at 2013 MML Conference

clock April 1, 2013 11:26 by author Matt Bach

LANSING, Michigan - Mitch Bean, former director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency, and Eric Lupher, Director of Local Affairs at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, will participate in a panel discussion on Michigan’s budget situation and trends in Michigan’s budgets and their effect on our local municipalities. The discussion, moderated by League Vice President and Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan, will take place 3:15-4 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at the Michigan Municipal League's 2013 Capital Conference in Lansing.

Bean and Lupher will participate in a panel discussion following a presentation by current Michigan Budget Director John Nixon. View the full conference agenda. Register online here. Nixon is among several top government officials headlining this year's Capital Conference. Also speaking are Governor Rick Snyder, and John Porcari, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation. View all the speakers here.

More about Bean and Lupher:

Mitchell E. Bean, Great Lakes Economic Consulting, formerly served as the Director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency, a nonpartisan agency within the Michigan House of Representatives. He was one of three voting members of the Michigan Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference which, by law, determines the official economic and revenue forecast that serves as the basis for the state budget. Prior to his appointment as Agency Director, Bean was the Chief Economist for the Michigan House of Representatives. He has extensive experience in forecasting Michigan's tax revenue, and has produced numerous publications on related topics. In addition, he has been a regular participant in discussions at the Midwest Economic Roundtable, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.Be3an received a B.A. in economics from Washington State University, Pullman, WA, and an M.A. in economics from Michigan State University.

Eric Lupher is Director of Local Affairs at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, where he has served in various capacities since 1987.  During that time, Lupher has done studies on a number of state and local government policy issues, including extensive work on local government consolidation and collaboration. He also manages the CRC website.  After serving as treasurer of the Governmental Research Association for 15 years, he currently serves as the association’s president.  He served six years on the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council (GASAC), an advisory body for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), representing the user community on behalf of the Governmental Research Association.  Lupher received a Bachelor of Arts from James Madison College in Michigan State University and a Masters of Public Administration from Wayne State University.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached mbach@mml.org and 734) 669-6317.

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Michigan Budget Director John Nixon to Talk Finance at 2013 Conference

clock April 1, 2013 11:11 by author Matt Bach


Michigan Budget Director John Nixon.

LANSING, Michigan - Michigan’s budget woes have been notorious over the last decade, and our communities have taken the hit. While we now have a balanced budget under Governor Snyder’s administration, we aren’t seeing a dramatic change toward local communities. During the Michigan Municipal League's 2013 Capital Conference, attendees will have a chance to hear from State Budget Director John Nixon as well as panel of economists and experts to discuss trends in Michigan’s budgets and their effect on our local municipalities.

This "Taking Back the Budget" general session will occur 3:15-4:430 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at the League's annual legislative conference. View the full conference agenda. Register online here. Nixon is among several top government officials headlining this year's Capital Conference. Also speaking are Governor Rick Snyder, and John Porcari, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation. View all the speakers here.

More about John Nixon: He is is director of the Michigan Department of Technology and the State Budget Office, heading an agency of nearly 2,700 employees who provide a full range of services to Michigan's citizens, businesses, state agencies, state employees and retirees. In this role, Nixon is leading the department's mission of providing vital administrative and technology services to enable Michigan's reinvention, with the vision of making the State of Michigan one of the most innovative and responsive governments in the world. Nixon is a certified public accountant who came to Michigan from the State of Utah, where he served as director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget from 2006-2010. In 2012, Nixon was named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine, which cited his role in Michigan's turnaround. He was also named one of Government Technology magazine's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2012, recognized for cutting through the public sector's barriers to innovation to reshape government operations for the better. He also was honored as the 2012 Outstanding CPA in Government by the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants. He was adjunct professor in the University of Utah MPA program and served as president of the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) in 2010.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached mbach@mml.org and 734) 669-6317.

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