Michigan Municipalities Want State Funding Overhaul
Revenue sharing, aging suburbs and government policies are topping the list of issues at the Michigan Municipal League's 104th annual convention in Dearborn.
Municipal leaders want to overhaul the current system of funding local government that Taylor Mayor Greg Pitoniak says is broken. Communities get funding from three major sources -- property taxes, administrative fees charged for such items as building permits and from a portion of state revenue generated from the sales tax and other fees.
"The funding system needs to be restructured," said Pitoniak. Because of caps on property assessments and a cut in funds returned to cities by the state, more communities are "doomed to several years of financial crisis, and it's not because of mismanagement," he said.
"The government should look into some type of municipal finance reform," Pitoniak said. "I'm not sure how it should be done but it will require us to put our heads together."
The issue is critical to cities such as Dearborn Heights, which is facing a multimillion-dollar deficit.
"I agree something has to be done or we risk loosing public safety officials and other services," said Dearborn Heights resident Marie Sobek. She said it is up to lawmakers to figure out how to get more funding for local government.
The three-day municipal convention, which opened Wednesday, gives about 800 municipal officials from more than 500 cities and villages across the state an opportunity to network and discuss problems like finances and topics from transportation to environmental affairs.
"Cooperation solves any problem. (It) has always been the league's motto because we are stronger together than we are apart," said league President Robert Slattery Jr., mayor of Mount Morris. "We're all here this week striving to build better communities."
The remainder of the convention will be spent attending several educational workshops, including forums on the state's new telecommunication law, upcoming state and federal regulations that will govern municipal sewer and storm water systems and round-table discussions.