Michigan Municipal League - Better Communities. Better Michigan.



Founder of New Urbanism to Speak at League Convention

clock June 20, 2013 08:16 by author Elizabeth Shaw

The man known as the “founder of New Urbanism” will speak at the League’s 2013 Convention, to be held Sept. 17-20 in Detroit.

Andres Duany has been at the forefront of this international movement that seeks to end surburban sprawl and urban disinvestment. His firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) first gained fame for the design of Seaside, Florida, followed by the design and building of hundreds of new and retrofit communities and downtown revitalizations. His work has had a profound influence on urban planning in the US, including the placemaking initiative that is guiding progressive local policies here in Michigan. He and wife and business partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk have co-authored such books as “The Smart Growth Manual.”

The League's Colleen Layton and Arnold Weinfeld recently got a chance to meet Duany at the 2013 Congress for the New Urbanism Conference in Salt Lake City. Read about the experience on the League's Placemaking blog.

During the League Convention, Duany will speak on “Lean Urbanism for Local Governments” at 3:00 pm Thursday, September 19. He will outline promising techniques for building resilient communities through such strategies as code-free zones and tactical urbanism. This is a can’t-miss-it session for municipal leaders, planners and others who are seeking a path toward a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable future for their community.


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Why Detroit Matters to Michigan Communities

clock May 30, 2013 10:28 by author Elizabeth Shaw

Why does Detroit matter to Michigan’s future? Read this article from the March/April issue of The Review magazine. Once you do, you’ll understand why the future of every Michigan community is connected to the fate of our largest metropolitan center…and you’ll see why the League’s 2013 Convention is taking place on this important urban stage.

Detroit’s “future history” is also the focus of Bridge Magazine correspondent Rick Haglund’s latest insightful piece on why a vibrant urban core is so critical to luring young talent. The struggles Detroit has faced in the past few decades, and the challenges it faces in the years to come, are compared to Milwaukee’s journey to reinvent itself from a blue collar manufacturing hub to the kind of city where young college grads are flocking.

You’ll get to explore these issues firsthand and see what Detroiters are doing to reinvent the city at the League’s 2013 Convention at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit, September 17-10, 2013. Registration opens June 1!

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Pre-Conference Workshops Cover Crucial Municipal Topics

clock May 30, 2013 10:26 by author Elizabeth Shaw

The Michigan Municipal League’s 2013 Convention takes place Sept. 18-20 at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit, but the action starts with a series of pre-convention workshops on Tuesday, September 17:

Finding Funding: Preparing Your Municipality for the Next Decade will provide resources and ideas to help elected officials, council members, city managers, and staff develop creative strategies to meet their community’s financial challenges in the years ahead.

Crisis Communication is a must-attend session for department heads and elected officials who must communicate with the public and news media in times of emergency or other situations that could be a public relations challenge. How would you communicate to your residents during a massive power outage? If something terrible happened, would you just hope for the best or are you prepared for the worst?

Most Common OMA & FOIA Mistakes & How to Avoid Them is a comprehensive  guideto the two laws that every public official needs to understand and follow in order to avoid missteps ranging from bad publicity to costly and lawsuits.

So if you plan to attend Convention, why not plan to arrive early enough to sign up for one of these informative workshops? It’s the kind of return-on-investment that pays off in the kind of valuable skills and knowledge that every elected official and municipal staffer needs. Convention registration opens June 1 and pre-con registration links will be posted too as soon as they’re available.

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Taking Back the Budget Session wraps up Capital Conference

clock April 11, 2013 09:34 by author Elizabeth Shaw

Michigan Budget Director John Nixon Speaks at the 2013 Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference.

By Samantha Harkins

In the last session of the 2013 Capital Conference the League focused on the critical issue of the state budget and its impact on our own local budgets.  The League’s Vice President and Mayor of Utica Jacqueline Noonan kicked off the final session with good news announcing that the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee just recommended a 4.8 percent increase to EVIP funding. Mayor Noonan also discussed how our communities have responded to Michigan’s tough economic times.

State Budget Director John Nixon followed Mayor Noonan and discussed how the state has turned its budget around. He focused on the many changes they have made including retirement reforms for state employees, tax changes and ending the “gimmicks” of previous budgets. The state’s economic forecast has improved, and this year there is a surplus. Director Nixon also pointed out that the State’s bond rating has improved as well as a result of these changes.

Following his remarks there was a panel including former House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean and Eric Luphur from Citizens Research Council. Both Mitch and Eric are extremely familiar with the state’s budget and changes made over the last few decades. They discussed how the state’s budgeting over the last decade has pushed the problem onto local units of government (as we all know too well). In Mitch’s words: “I guess it’s better to starve someone else’s beast instead of your own, because that’s when the problem started to be shifted to local governments in a big way through revenue sharing cuts.”

Samantha Harkins is Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at (517) 908-0306 and sharkins@mml.org.

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Former League President and State Rep. Vicki Barnett kicks off personal property tax session

clock April 11, 2013 09:16 by author Elizabeth Shaw

Samantha Harkins talks about the PPT at the 2013 MML Capital Conference in a packed room.

By Samantha Harkins

Personal property tax reform was one of the hottest topics of the 2011-12 legislative session, and with lots of work to be done on the new proposal is a top priority of the League in this session as well.  State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), also a former League Board of Trustees President, kicked off the session by describing her take on PPT as a legislator during the lame duck session in December.  Rep. Barnett displayed her usual passion in describing the speed with which the legislature handled such a complex issue with little time to digest a new proposal introduced in legislation with only a few weeks left in the session.  Rep. Barnett walked legislators through the process and gave a broad overview of the reform.

Following Rep. Barnett’s remarks I presented a detailed presentation of the PPT reform. The League was involved in work groups for the first few months of the year, and we expect draft legislation in the coming weeks. At this time there are still a number of questions that remain unanswered including how the reform will deal with tax capture districts (LDFAs, TIFs, etc) and the legality of the essential services assessment.

The session was standing room only, and there were a number of insightful and thought provoking questions. The League will continue to monitor the changes to this new legislation as a key priority.

Samantha Harkins is Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at 517-908-6383 and sharkins@mml.org.

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