Legislation that would institute the Governor’s proposed water fee was a last minute addition the to the House Appropriation Committee agenda this afternoon. A substitute to HB 5898 was adopted but the committee stripped the bill of the proposed fee increase. The bill now creates a Rebuild Michigan Fund, directs the Department of Treasury to create a water assistance grant program and requires water suppliers that serve 1000 people or more to provide the DEQ with an inventory of residential and commercial accounts based on meter size.
As introduced, the the fee would raise $110 million annually. $25 million would go to asset management planning, $75 million would go to a state capital investment program and $10 million would go into an emergency fund. For more specifics on the proposal please click here and here.
The League is opposed to the introduce version of the bill because it takes revenue from local systems, redistributes it and forces us to compete to get a small portion of our own money back. Even though the bill was stripped of many of the items we object to, the League still testified in opposition today. We are fearful that as part of a lame duck negotiation the fee could be added back into to the bill. We encourage you to reach out to your Legislator and ask them not to support legislation that would take revenue away from our local water systems.
We also continue to oppose SB 943, the Governor’s proposal to increase tipping fee. The latest version we have seen would distribute revenue from the fee for five years directly to local units that are currently spending funds on solid waste and recycling to adjust to the increased fee. We have been able to continue our conversations with the Administration and are working on further changes to minimize the financial impact to local government.
For communities that use a PA 298 millage to pay for solid waste collection, SB 1265 was introduced late last week and would allow communities to go beyond the current 3 mill cap to pass these new costs along, but it would require a vote of the residents to allow that pass-through.
It is possible that both of these bills could come up before the end of the week. We will make sure to keep you updated on any movement with them.
John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0303.