(Source: MIRS.news, Published 03/15/2023) Deena Bosworth of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) says although her organization greatly appreciates the Governor's proposal to dedicate $19.6 million extra to local governments for public safety “revenue sharing,” she'd prefer that any additional money go into revenue sharing dollars that locals can use as needed.
"It can be used to get rid of the asbestos in the county building, or (to) fix a handicap ramp or go to pay for a child who needs juvenile justice services, and the unrestricted nature of this is very important across the state because they're not all the same," Bosworth said. "(We) would love to see a public safety line-item separated out and dedicated to public safety, and so it's not commingled with other unrestricted funds."
The Governor's Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget recommended revenue sharing payment to counties be increased $41.4 million. Of that, $24.5 million is going to a straight 10% funding increase . The other $17 million is going toward public safety initiatives, such as employee recruitment/retention, equipment or infrastructure improvements.
City, village and township revenue sharing (CVTRS) payments are also supposed to experience a 17% increase over the ongoing amount for FY '23, but those will be split between standard payments and public safety payments in the proposal, as well.
For example, according to a presentation provided to the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, the city of Roseville in Macomb County would receive a standard payment of more than $1.07 million in FY '24 and $68,281 for public safety alone.
The city of Plymouth in Wayne County would receive a standard payment of $155,467 in FY '24 and $9,893 for public safety. The city of Owosso in Shiawassee County would additionally obtain a standard payment of $496,548 and a public safety payment of $31,598.
When it comes to total CVTRS standard payments projected under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's recommendations, Roseville would receive $97,544 more than it did during this current FY, Plymouth would acquire $14,133 more and Owosso would obtain $45,141 more than for FY '23.
"Would there be a temptation, that their budgets are so trapped, that they would use those public safety dollars to fund swap?" asked Sen. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) during Wednesday's subcommittee meeting. "It wouldn't increase the overall allocation to public safety, which I believe is the intent of the funding . . . is that a real concern? Is that something we should be looking at?"
Bosworth explained in front of the subcommittee that she'd hate to see a scenario where a local community uses its own public safety dollars to address a sinkhole or an infrastructure danger because it doesn't have any other funding and the proposed public safety appropriation would make up the difference.
"I can't say that's gonna happen, but . . . they do have a fiduciary responsibility to allocate funding to what they need to do," Bosworth said. "But in my mind, this is more of a restricted fund, and not like an unrestricted fund."
Wednesday the committee took testimony from Bosworth, Judy Allen of the Michigan Townships Association and John LaMacchia of the Michigan Municipal League (MML). Throughout the presentations, there were two references to possibly creating a revenue sharing trust fund.
"What if we also invested in communities like we also invested in corporations? What if we treated our communities as a way in which to be competitive with Ohio or Indiana, or Florida or California or Texas, or Europe or Asia? What if we did and took that same approach along the way?" LaMacchia asked.
Already, Sens. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) and Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) have introduced SB 182 and SB 183, and Reps. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) and Mark Tisdel (R-Rochester Hills) have introduced HB 4274 and HB 4275, to create a fund within the state Department of Treasury in which a portion of the general sales tax revenue will be automatically set aside for local government expenditures.