Update: Check out this related column, “Strong Communities Require Fixing Michigan’s Local Funding System,” by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans in mlive.com.
The Michigan Municipal League’s Anthony Minghine participated today in the first of a series of statewide panel discussions regarding the state’s broken system for funding municipalities. Today’s panel discussion in Trenton was the first stop in a tour across the state over the next several months. The tour is organized by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.
Michigan was the only state in the nation where municipal revenues dropped from 2002-12, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by the Michigan Municipal League. In fact, Michigan experienced an 8-percent decrease caused largely by decisions of state policymakers and state laws.
State support for cities was slashed by 56 percent over that period, while state revenues increased 29 percent. That cut for cities was the biggest decline in any state, the data shows.
Modest increases since then have not kept up with municipal responsibilities to provide police, fire, recreational and other services.
“Michigan’s flawed policies and legal limitations are drastically inhibiting our cities’ ability to provide critical public services. The data is clear that in Michigan we are starving our cities to the brink of failure,” Minghine said. “This has been a systematic disinvestment in local government.”
Since 2002, the state has cut revenue sharing to cities, villages, townships, and counties by $7.5 billion, with Flint’s revenue sharing being cut by $62 million, Lansing by $63.5 million, Marquette by $7.8 million, and Detroit by $827.6 million.
The total cut to just Wayne County communities is $1.2 billion and Trenton, where the tour stop started Wednesday, has lost more than $8 million.
Other tour stops are planned in Grand Rapids in July, the Upper Peninsula in August, Lansing in September, Traverse City in October, Flint in November and back at an undetermined southeast Michigan location in January.
“This is the first of seven stops throughout the state,” Evans said at Wednesday’s event in Trenton. “Why are we going throughout the state? If this works and we craft a solution, that solution has to be something we can all live with throughout the state. Local governments are not getting a significant amount of the pie back from what we send the state. In Wayne County we have made cuts, restructured costs, balanced budgets and still it is not enough to provide necessary levels of service.”
Residents can find out how much money has been diverted from a given community by using an online searchable database created by the League at www.savemicity.org/search/.
Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (810) 874-1073.