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Michigan awards grants to 32 communities to find new ways to get along

Getting along with your neighbors isn’t always easy. So Governor Rick Snyder came up with a pretty simple plan to get townships, counties and cities to find new ways to work together; give them some kind of incentive, specifically, money.

Michigan Department of Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says these Competitive Grant Assistance Grants are incentives to get neighboring cities, townships and counties to work together in new ways.

“You know, getting the most out of tax dollars and reducing costs for local units of government who may be able to collaborate on something or consolidate whether that’s public safety or some other issue that runs parallel through the local units,” Stanton said.

The State of Michigan’s Treasury Department announced the grants Tuesday (find which communities here).

“The interest we’ve seen shows that a lot of local units out there think this is something, you know, worthy of considering and in fact applying for it,” Stanton said. The department got 75 applications for the grants this year.

The grants are worth close to $15 million total in fiscal year 2012. They’ll go to communities from all over the state, from Monroe to Pontiac to Grand Haven and up to Marquette. About half of the grants will go towards efforts to improve public safety; some of the most expensive services municipalities provide.

The biggest grant, worth $3.6 million, goes to the City of Grand Rapid to fund a 15-year-long agreement between Livonia and Grand Rapids to create the Michigan Municipal Services Authority. That project will tackle all kinds of administrative problems that cities face.

Ultimately the authority’s solutions will be organized into a sort of “virtual city hall” that other cities could access. Michigan’s Department of Treasury hopes it’ll help local administrators run cities better.

“This is potentially a huge step toward governmental collaboration and consolidation. It’s not consolidating governing boards but if we can standardize management it’s got to better for everyone,” Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom said about the project back in July.

Next year school districts can apply for the grants too. The application deadline is December 3rd.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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