As reported in a previous post, the House Tax Policy committee took general testimony on TIFs and DDAs this week. The committee was only about 35 minutes long because of caucus meetings and the Governor’s budget announcement, which didn’t give us a lot of time to present. The Michigan Association of Counties started off the committee and their presentation by saying they are not looking to eliminate TIF districts but are looking for more accountability, transparency and partnership in economic development. They dove into a particular example of a community (Union Township in Isabella County) who they feel is a “bad actor” and went through tax capture examples from their two DDAs and how much they were capturing verse what the DDA was capturing, as well as, what the county would say, is the inability of those DDAs to work with the other taxing jurisdictions. It was then MML’s turn to close out the committee hearing and I was joined by Tom Dempsey (city manager, Portland) and Kris Larson (DDA director, Grand Rapids) to speak about the many benefits TIFs/DDAs provide to local municipalities/the region and the importance of having an all in sort of approach when it comes to economic development (not allowing opt-outs) so has to effectively create change in our municipalities.
The chair of the committee (Rep. Jeff Farrington, Sterling Heights) indicated that the committee would take the spring to focus on this issue (likely after their break in April). As soon as we know when the committee meetings will be or when a bill dealing with TIFs and DDAs will be introduced, I will be sure to let you all know.
Again, I would stress the importance of contacting your legislators and not only discussing with them the benefit these districts have provided to your community but also inviting them to the district so they can see firsthand the positive impact. Have them talk with business owners, residents, etc. to get their perspective of the positive impact as well as from the local community’s perspective.
This is the perfect opportunity for communities to show the benefits of their TIF districts and the great things that have happened because of them that not only benefit the local community but also the region surrounding it. Discuss with them what an opt-out would do to the economic development efforts of your community and how useful these tools truly are.
A big thank you to both Tom and Kris for braving the nasty roads that morning and testifying and to all of you who have already taken the opportunity to discuss this with your legislators.
Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues. She can be reached at email@example.com or 517-908-0305.