Ouimet hails passage of 'sweeping legislation' to help local governments consolidate
The state House on Thursday approved what one Washtenaw County lawmaker is calling "sweeping legislation" that allows local governments to more easily consolidate.
Senate Bills 8-9, which state Rep. Mark Ouimet shepherded through the House Committee on Local Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs, create the Municipal Partnership Act for local governments to utilize when consolidating or cooperating to provide services.
"As we ask our local governments to do the same with less, it is important we provide them with the tools they need to be successful," Ouimet, R-Scio Township, said in a statement.
SB 8 authorizes two or more local governments — or one or more local governments and a public agency — to enter into a contract to form a joint partnership that could exercise the functions of the local government or public agency.
The new joint partnerships could levy up to 5 mills worth of property taxes with approval by voters during a November general election.
According to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the legislation, "local government" means a county, city, village or township.
"Public agency" means the state, any department or agency of the state, a single-purpose or multipurpose public body corporate formed under a law other than the proposed act, or an Indian tribe recognized by the federal government before 2000 that exercises governmental authority over land within the state.
Consolidation has become somewhat of a buzzword in the political arena in Michigan, with both Democrats and Republicans backing efforts to find new efficiencies in local government.
The first step in a possible merger of Saugatuck, Douglas and Saugatuck Township into one town in southwest Michigan is reportedly under way. A grassroots committee is petitioning the Michigan State Boundary Commission to put the merger process on track for a vote in 2012.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.