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Press Release


Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;


Michigan Municipal League Offers Solutions to State's Broken Municipal Finance System

League legislative proposals would help control costs, improve revenues


LANSING, Michigan - With many Michigan communities struggling to provide vital services due to Michigan’s broken municipal finance system, the Michigan Municipal League today offered a series of proposals aimed at reducing costs and investing in our communities to improve residents’ quality of life.

“Michigan’s current system for funding municipalities is clearly broken,” said Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League. “From 2002-2012, we were the only state in the nation where municipal revenue actually fell, and there has been little improvement since then. That means cities have laid off first responders and been unable to maintain roads and infrastructure, let alone provide the services that attract college graduates, the lifeblood of today’s middle class.”

“We were thrilled to hear Governor Snyder during his State of State address last week recognize the importance of placemaking, which is the concept of revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods to meet the needs of residents. We’ve been supporting this concept for years. We believe the Governor’s State of the State address was the best sign we’ve seen yet that our policy makers agree that our communities are economic drivers for our state. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and make it happen.”

The League, during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, talked about the value of placemaking and current impediments to making placemaking a reality. Holland Mayor Nancy DeBoer described the positive influence of placemaking on her West Michigan community. Howell City Manager Shea Charles, chair of the League’s Municipal Finance committee, also discussed placemaking benefits, but detailed the financial struggles facing cities.

Also at the news conference, the League issued a new report, “Michigan’s Broken Municipal Finance System: Issues and Proposed Actions,” available at This easy-to-digest report explains why the system is broken and outlines solutions. It points out:

  • Michigan’s municipal finance system fails to track with the economy: The state has cut revenue sharing by $7.5 billion since 2002. There was another reduction in revenue sharing in 2015-16.


  • State policy limits the ability to control many costs: Local governments need more tools to allow regional infrastructure sharing and controls to retirement costs, particularly retirement health care costs.

The report provides solutions. It calls for:

  • State authority to help cities contain certain costs, particularly retirement health care. Cities want to be able to provide competitive benefits to their retirees. But in order to provide modern health care benefits, we need modern health care plan designs.


  • State policies aimed at regional infrastructure: Service delivery in the state is fragmented by geographic lines that have little to do with the lives of people served. We need to fully utilize our existing infrastructure.

  • More revenue stability and options for local revenue: The state needs to recommit to supporting revenue sharing and allow growth from property taxes that are commensurate with the state’s economic growth.


“We are prepared to work closely with Gov. Snyder and the Legislature to move forward smart solutions that lead to cities that work better and can provide the quality of life Michigan families deserve and that will attract people to our state,” Gilmartin said. “Gov. Snyder has called for our state to grow its population back to the 10 million mark, and we agree that ‘true’ growth is the answer. We must recognize that won’t happen if our cities continue to be burdened by archaic state policies.”

For additional information, contact the League’s Matt Bach, director of media relations, at (734) 669-6317 (office) and

Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at




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