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Michigan Municipal League

Press Release


Contact:

Matt Bach
Director of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073
mbach@mml.org; www.mml.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 9, 2017

State Municipal Finance System is Broken

saveMIcity event in Macomb County details funding challenges facing Michigan communities

 

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Michigan – You can’t cut your way to prosperity, but when it comes to Michigan communities that’s what they’ve been trying to do under the state’s current broken system for funding municipalities. And it’s not going to get any better unless the system is fixed.

That was the overriding message Thursday during a Town Hall Meeting in Macomb County attended by state legislators, local government officials, and concerned residents and business owners.

The event featured a presentation from the Michigan Municipal League’s saveMIcity initiative and discussions from city leaders from three Macomb County communities - Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool, Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins and Utica Treasurer Philip Paternoster. Also attending were State Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, and Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights. The League’s saveMIcity initiative has been active for more than a year now and has traveled to more than 60 communities speaking to thousands of people about the broken system and need for change. Learn more at saveMIcity.org.

“Cities cannot cut their way out of this ongoing crisis,” Vanderpool said. “In our case we have lost over $44 million in state shared revenue resulting in the need to eliminate over 200 full-time positions. In addition, we have eliminated pensions, retiree health care, privatized numerous services and it still was not enough. Cities have been forced to increase tax rates to partially recover lost revenue, but this creates winners and losers. We need bold leadership at the state level to address municipal finance reform and ensure proper funding of state shared revenue.“

Vanderpool explained that his city – the state’s fourth largest city with a population of 125,000 people - has gone from more than 600 employees to just over 400 employees in recent years. It has managed to stay afloat financially largely due to budget cuts and two voter-approved millages.

The Oct. 5 event at Macomb Community College was moderated by Chad Livengood, a reporter with Crain’s Detroit Business. The League’s Anthony Minghine, deputy director and COO, kicked things off by setting up the back story as to why Michigan’s communities struggle financially and will continue to struggle even though the state’s economy is improving. Minghine explained that Michigan ranks 50th in the nation in investment in its communities. He said that since 2002, revenues to communities went down 56 percent while revenues to the state went up 27 percent. During the Great Recession, the state balanced its own budget on the backs of local governments.

“We have disinvested in our communities and that has got to stop,” Minghine said. “The true way to fix this broken system is to raise the value of a community. We’ve got to think differently about how we fund our communities.”

The main problem, Minghine said, is that funding for local communities does not track with the economy.

The saveMIcity tour heads back to Macomb County later this month as Minghine is scheduled to speak to a group of up-and-coming Macomb area business leaders.

For additional information, contact the League’s Matt Bach, director of communications, at (810) 874-1073 (cell); (734) 669-6317 (office) and mbach@mml.org.

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 mml.org.

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