Lansing Lawmakers are Law Breakers, Taxes and Roads

December 7, 2017

By the time you read this you should have received your winter property taxes.

We will touch taxes more in the future when we review where the money goes, but first let’s cover some ground from the past.  If you read any of my articles

Dan Dysinger, Grant Twp Supervisor

Dan Dysinger, Grant Twp Supervisor

previously you know I’m a hawk for unfunded mandates by the State against local coffers.  It’s just simply stealing, I think people still go to jail for this.

Previously it was outlined how such transfers usurp funding from a local unit to achieve something the State should pay for.

There are two bills presently setting in respective committees in the House and Senate that expands Public Act 161 of 2013 titled Veterans Property Exemption.  The House bill numbered 4104 is sponsored by Representative Jason Wentworth (R) 97th District, that includes Clare County.   Senate Bill 45 is sponsored by Senator Dave Hildenbrand(R), 29th Senate District.

Both bills are stuck in Tax Policy committees, we should be hopeful they get flushed in the nearest commode.  These pieces of legislation exact additional encumbrance on Local Units through a continuing violation of Michigan Constitution Article 29 provisions known as the “Headlee Amendment”.  All Local Units ie;  Cities, Villages, Townships, Schools and Counties should be screaming at these representatives very loudly opposing further changes.  Additionally, asking for reversal of attacks on Local Units of Government.  Very simply, if the Legislature feels good about something they need to provide the funding for it.  Deliberately trampling the Michigan Constitution is no different than driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Grant Township underwent an Audit of Minimum Assessing Requirement (AMAR) review last year.  I’ve written about this in the past, but I’ll cover the approximate costs.  About half the Townships fail the test.  We won’t cover a lot of detail, it’s mundane.  Nonetheless arguing with Lansing, under threat of seizing the tax roll by the State Tax Commission, we adopted a policy foisted as an unfunded mandate to review 20% of the properties each year.  Such review will cost Grant about $4,500 more each year, it’s endless.  This is complicated, many people can’t grasp the slippery nature of the Lansing regulatory atmosphere, and our State Representatives are more clueless.

All Local Assessing Units are required to complete such review annually under mandate by the State Tax Commission.

What do these two mentioned unfunded mandates cost Grant; PA161 costs about $1,650 each year, adding the State Tax Commission requirements at $4,500 comes to $6,150.  Doesn’t sound like much on the surface but after 10 years it totals over $61,000, enough to pave or re-gravel one mile of roadway in 2017 dollars.

Many Clare County Townships have represented their constituents well at the Clare County Road Commission the last couple of years.  Each year a local task committee consisting of representatives from the Road Commission, City of Harrison, and Clare County Transit meet.  The meeting is held to consider a plan using available “7c” Federal Highway and MDOT Funding.  Because Townships in Clare County have been aggressive providing match money, a lot of local road work has been completed.  Things are getting better but more improvement continues to loom.  Townships in general have provided substantial feedback to the 7c task committee that the maximum effort in funding from this source be used for roadways.

One of the factors in dividing this funding is that Transit units are considered, and they have.  Efforts by Clare County Transit Corporation however, have been to suggest a much larger diversion to Transit.

The eligible road surfaces for this funding in Clare County, totals 22 miles in 2018.  A larger diversion of this funding to Clare County Transit would substantially reduce miles improved.

Here are the numbers; total 7c funding amounts are about $650,000, Clare County Transit Corporation is scheduled to receive $32,000 but instead asked for an increase to about $114,000.  The increase to Transit was declined by the committee, in the past it was suggested Transit increase fares but this was rejected, opting instead to request more subsidy funding.  Increasing fares would be a better choice to accommodate the increased costs of operation for Transit.

Last, a brief update on our Urban Cooperation Agreement revenue sharing amount.  Because of continued development in the Clare North Industrial Park the UCA payment for 2017 was $7,616.68.  This is enough to cover our unfunded mandates from the State for 2018 and leaving some left over.  Maybe next year the unfunded State mandates will expand using it all up.

I’ll leave you with this tidbit, the collective years of experience by the Grant Township Board totals 109.  Drive careful during the busy Holiday Season.

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