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Michigan Municipal League

News Statement


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


Michigan's Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk Should Not be Subsidized by Local Communities

By Catherine Bostick-Tullius
President of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees
Commissioner, City of Lapeer

The annual Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day is a fantastic Michigan tradition. It’s great for our state, our state’s tourism, and our state’s image. Oh, and it takes place on the state-owned Mackinac Bridge, which is operated by the Mackinac Bridge Authority – an independent state agency.

Let’s see – how many times did I use the word “state” in that intro? Five times!!!. And now the state wants local communities surrounding the bridge to help the state cover the costs of the Labor Day bridge walk.

That’s just not a feasible option.

The future of the long-standing bridge walk has been in doubt due to increasing costs to operate the event. One idea the Mackinac Bridge Authority has come up with, according to multiple media reports, including an AP article posted by the Detroit News (, is to have the three communities closest to the walk – Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and St. Ignace – form a plan to help share in the cost of the bridge walk and present those ideas to the authority at its February meeting.

That’s ridiculous. It’s not clear what the MBA meant by “local communities.” But there is no way that the municipalities within these communities can – or should - do anything on top of what they are already doing to support this great state event. Since 2002, state revenues that are allocated to Michigan communities decreased 56 percent while revenues to the statewent up 27 percent. The state balanced its budget on the back of local municipalities. So now … let me get this straight … a state agency again wants local communities to bail them out and help pay for an event that benefits the entire state? Absolutely not!

That would be like your neighbor continually stealing things from you – your money, house siding, and lawn mower – then complaining that your unkempt property is bringing down housing values in the neighborhood so you better find a way to fix it.

The state has put local governments in a similar situation.

Over the past 15 years, they have diverted $8.1 billion that communities were counting on to provide necessary services to their residents – public safety, street and sidewalk repair, public utilities, recreational and cultural amenities, and other essential investments that create flourishing local economies. Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and St. Ignace, for example, have seen a combined $1.3 million in expected revenue sharing diverted from their communities to the state in the last decade and a half.

Their ability to fund basic services has been seriously curtailed. Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, in particular, aren’t even eligible for state public safety reimbursements like fire protection grant funding, even though those communities provide police, fire, and ambulance services for incidents that occur on the Mackinac Bridge and its approaches. Funding a state tourism event is just out of the question.

The state needs to figure out this issue and come up with a statewide funding solution. If you think that state government should continue to fund this unique and outstanding Michigan event, you can contact the Mackinac Bridge Authority here: Tell them local governments have nothing left to give!

For additional information, contact the League’s Matt Bach, director of communications (810) 874-1073 (cell); (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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