By unanimous vote on Monday April 9, 2007, the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council adopted a major, region-wide policy statement on State Budget and Taxation Issues that calls on Governor Jennifer Granholm and state legislators to consiuder a careful balance of state budget cuts, fundamental reforms of government service delivery and new revenue sources to solve the state's long-term structural economic problems. Development of the GVMC policy paper began on February 14, when the GVMC Legislative Committee and invited guests met for nearly four hours at region-wde state budget and tax policy forum at Cascade Township Library. There more than 50 participants discuss ed current state and local fiscal challenges; suggest ed actions that GVMC can take in the near term to address members' concerns; and map out a range of options that Lansing decision makers can take to strengthen Michigan's economy, eliminate the state's chronic structural deficits and provide adequate funding for public services.
Based on the discussion and outcomes from that February 14 Forum, a subcommittee of the Legislative Committee met February 26 to develop a policy statement for GVMC that addresses our collective concerns, desires and recommendations regarding state budget and tax policy. Chaired by Kentwood Mayor Richard Root, the subcommittee consisted of Grand Rapids Township Supervisor Michael DeVries, Caledonia Township Supervisor Bryan Harison, Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio and Grand Rapids City Manager Kurt Kimball.
The GVMC Policy Statement begins with a general statement on our state's current economic and fiscal conditions; summarizes the conversation and ideas exchanged at GVMC's February 14 Forum; includes a statement of overarching principles and outlines specific recommendations that we hope to share with the Governor and legislators. All of the statements and recommendations reflect the current status of the state budget and taxation issues that Governor Granholm and state lawmakers are grappling with, and that have been identified by Michigan opinion leaders as issues and policies that need immediate attention.
Click here to download a copy of the GVMC Policy Statement on State Budget and Taxation Issues.
The Grand Valley Metropolitan Council supports the right of citizens to initiate a recall vote. However, a recent rash of recall petitions has made it clear the issue needs to be seriously examined, including clarifying the laws regarding how and when a recall can be requested.
Statewide, recalls have been requested for a variety of reasons including:
In many cases, recall has become the tool of a disgruntled and/or self-serving few. An official's ability to make decisions based on the good of the entire community can be seriously impaired when a vocal few threaten recall if an issue is not decided in their favor.
The ease in which a recall can be initiated, regardless of its validity, also dilutes the pool of candidates willing to serve their community. As the recall legislation currently stands, the reason listed on a petition for initiating a recall is not even required to be truthful. The specter of a ecall initiative can follow an official and his or her family for the rest of their lives.
The right of recall is a necessary tool in ensuring the accountability of elected officials. However, in many cases, the lack of parameters or regulations regarding the process gives undue power to a small minority of people, and does not adequately represent the will of the majority of the citizenry. The Grand Valley Metro Council urges you to support recall reform so all of the State's citizens can rest assured that their elected officials are able to represent the best interests of their entire communities.
Joint Position Paper with the Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Municipal League,Michigan Association of Counties, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, and Michigan Association of School Boards.
The time has come to change the laws related to the oversight of mobile home parks, as well as the tax status of these developments These developments are wreaking havoc in communities across the state.
The mobile home industry has changed significantly over the last number of years and laws that were once written to govern camper trailer parks now govern what may very well be the largest development that will ever occur within a community. A commission that was created under afederal directive to mediate problems between an industry and the residents of mobile home parks is now reviewing site plans with little if no regard for the community as a whole.
Mobile home parks are not required to follow the same design standards as every other development within a community. As an example, mobile home park road systems do not easily accommodate school buses or emergency vehicles. As a result school children must walk greater distances to their bus stops and the mobile home parks are particularly difficult to deal with
during catastrophic events such as building fires or the aftermath of tornados.
State law has become so convoluted on the issue of inspections that no one understands whoactually has t he responsibility for conducting them. In a recent meeting on promulgating mobile home rules, the industry maintained that they wanted to continue to be exempt from local inspections. The state responded that they never were exempt. This confusion permeates the
system from developers to local building officials to state officials.
Just as important, the legislature must eliminate the archaic tax structure for mobile home parks. The taxpayers of this state cannot subsidize this industry any longer. At a time when schools and local governments are taking significant cuts, there can be no justification for a mobile home trailer tax as opposed to having all residential units being part of the property tax system.
More than any other issue, the $3 trailer fee is the root of more animosity towards these types of developments. A new park development with 500 units in any community in this state would require the homeowners to pay a minimum of $250,000 per year in property taxes to support their community. Instead, state law only requires $6,000 be paid to support local services and $12,000 be sent to the state to fund education. As the law currently stands, homeowners, including many low-income seniors and businesses, must cover the cost of providing services to residents of mobile home parks. This unfair tax situation must be stopped. The education of our children as well as the health, welfare and safety of our local communities demand this change.
For these reasons the above organizations are looking for three specific changes in current state law.