Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking at the World with Blinders On

Hamtramck, Royal Oak Township, Pontiac.  I could go on and on.  What will it take for our state to realize that they can no longer function with so many separate communities trying to provide their own services?

Yesterday's Detroit Free Press had an editorial called 'It's Crunch Time'.  No, they were not talking about your morning cereal.  They were talking about how we operate as a state with reduced incomes.

I do not believe we should be waiting for a community to be run by an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) before making changes.  It's too late by then and takes too long to fix the problem.  We need to start changing before the EFM is called in and the community is placed on 'life support'.  If one of these communities actually is allowed to file for bankruptcy, the entire state will be affected.

I hope that someone in the new administration dusts off the report to Jennifer Granholm on Fiscal Services.  It is dated 2006.  Among the suggestions was to move assessing functions to the county level.  Makes a lot of sense to me. 

And while we are at it, let's move tax collection and elections there as well.  We are no longer living in the nineteenth century, but we still operate as though we do.  (Hello, Michigan Townships Association (MTA).  Get with the new century!) 

Why should the local tax collector collect the tax, then pay the county and each individual school district, and then the county pays the state, and then the local settles with the county, who then collects delinquent taxes?  In other states, all taxes are collected and distributed at the county level. And despite what the MTA says, it is not really so cool to drop your taxes off at the local tax collector's home and then sit and have a cup of coffee, as may be done in the small rural townships. They have the US mail service there too.
If we can't get rid of these 1,242 township governments, the let's change the laws regarding who does what.  I have long said and even testified in Lansing that we need to get rid of townships, so this is nothing new for me. 

Michigan can start rethinking about how it does the business of the state, or it can continue its decline.  Those rose-colored glasses are turning into blinders and we need to make some changes.  And soon.

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