Detroit Free Press Editorial Board asks, “Lansing, are you listening to Michigan cities?”

August 25, 2016

The Detroit Free Press Editorial Board asks, “Lansing, are you listening to Michigan cities?” The piece draws attention to the latest Michigan Public Policy Survey on the fiscal health of the state’s local governments.

The University of Michigan's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), housed at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, has been conducting fiscal health surveys since the end of the Great Recession.

For years, the fiscal health of Michigan’s local governments seemed to be improving, but the latest survey—released earlier this week—shows a reversal as townships, cities, and counties struggle with rising costs and deferred infrastructure maintenance of roads, water treatment systems, and more against declining property tax revenues and state aid.

“[T]he state cannot claim financial health while its cities, counties and townships struggle to provide services,” writes the editorial board.

“Neither Snyder nor the legislative leaders who set Lansing’s agenda have shown willing to take these problems on. But a reconsideration of the way we fund cities—the way we pay for retiree pensions and health care, the way cities collect property tax, and the state’s obligation to fund local government—is long overdue.”

For more on CLOSUP's fiscal health findings, read:

CLOSUP is in the process of doing additional analysis on the results from its recent fiscal health survey, and plans to release these in a more detailed September 13 report. CLOSUP and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan will offer a free September 13 webinar--"Is Michigan’s system of funding local government broken?”--to go over these findings. Register now.