On Tuesday, the Michigan Senate convened for an action-packed day to move final items of legislation before the conclusion of the 2021-2022 legislative term. Among those bills was HB 5248, sponsored by Representative Steenland. HB 5248 would eliminate the current 15,500 population cap applied to cities and villages utilizing or seeking to utilize the PA 33 special assessment for police and fire. This change would add a requirement for cities and villages with a population above 15,500 to first bring the question of raising money by special assessment and the amount of the special assessment to be levied annually, with a majority of electors in the district supporting the special assessment.
The bill passed the House of Representatives in early May 2022 and was brought before the Senate Local Government committee in early November 2022. The Michigan Municipal League offered testimony alongside Representative Steenland in support of the bill, and the City of Roseville also provided testimony.
Limited session days did not allow for a committee vote. Thus, the bill was discharged to the Senate floor on November 29 and was taken up for a vote on the Senate floor the same day. HB 5248 passed with overwhelming support, 31-6-1, and will now go to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
The League has long advocated removing the PA 33 population cap on cities and villages. Legislation to make this change has been introduced but unsuccessful over the last 4 terms. Within the current statute, there is no population cap applied for townships. Most recently, the population cap for cities and villages was extended from 15,000 to 15,500 due to the 2020 Census (HB 4281 from Rep. Garza) . After both the 2010 and 2020 Census counts, the Michigan Legislature was rushed to make adjustments to the statute to accommodate municipalities that stood to immediately lose critical public safety funding. The League was able to point to this occurrence as a clear example of why this change was needed. This fix would address the disincentive for growth that discriminated against cities and villages and ensures the future Census counts did not jeopardize funding for public safety operations. Additionally, this will provide a tool for larger municipalities to seek additional revenue for more reliable services and competitive opportunities for public safety professionals.
Once signed by Governor Whitmer, HB 5248 would incorporate all existing carveouts for communities impacted by population shifts in PA 33. This will support expanded funding options for local communities, increase available resources, and strengthen collaboration opportunities for critical public safety services.
Herasanna Richards is a legislative associate handling energy, environmental, elections, and external municipal services for the League. She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0309