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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Self-Help For Cities

Depending on who is keeping score, scores of cities could
soon be in deeper financial trouble than they are right now. The main
source of local income for cops, firefighters and other services is
linked to property taxes which is linked to the value of houses and as
that plummets, so do the local dollars.
When the state government was flush…let's see, when was
that? Anyway when the state could afford to fully fund aid to the
cities, the talk of bankruptcies was not on the radar screen.
Now that screen looks like the one in the control tower at
O'Hare Airport. Upwards of 40 cities are on a financial watch which
means the state is watching and preparing for the worse.
Enter stage right, the Michigan Municipal League which
represents all those cities, rich and poor, on the watch list and not.
It has come to the harsh realization that state lawmakers
are in no mood to help because they don't have the moola. The MML has
a silver bullet: Give us the power to impose a regional tax and we'll
stop crawling to the capitol begging for bread. Call it self-help.
The regional concept could mean the collection of a sales
tax, gas tax or any other levies with the money staying where it was
Dan Gilmartin, CEO of the League, is confident local voters
would be amenable to this notion given the approval of most of the
local mileages last August.
The new governor has asked for solutions since he is not,
as he told an audience the other, "an ATM machine."
Hence he is likely to give this idea a top to bottom
review. But even if he signs off, can you imagine how long it would
take for local counties, cities, and township to get their regional act
But then if some of them are headed into the tank, it might
speed up the process.


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