The Michigan Municipal League, which represents mayors and city officials across the state, took a sharp turn today from past criticism of Gov. Rick Snyder by praising the governor’s embrace of the “placemaking” concept for economic growth.
“We were thrilled to hear Gov. Snyder during his State of the State address last week recognize the importance of placemaking, which is the concept of revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods to meet the needs of residents,” said Dan Gilmartin, executive director of the MML at a press conference. “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.”
At the same time, the League offered proposals to fix the state’s “broken municipal finance system,” which has cut revenue sharing to localities by $7.5 billion since 2002, resulting in municipal budget cuts and reduced services.
“Michigan’s current system for funding municipalities is clearly broken,” Gilmartin said. “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.”
Among the recommendations are a statewide pension system for municipal workers and a regional approach toward infrastructure projects that is not inhibited by city boundaries. The League also calls for increased revenue sharing payments from the Legislature and a revision in the state’s property tax system that allows healthy increases in revenues as the economy improves.
The MML issued a report, “Michigan’s Broken Municipal Finance System: Issues and Proposed Actions,” which can be viewed online at www.saveMIcity.org.
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