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Michigan cities team up to offset “fundamentally unsustainable” municipal finance system

Flickr user Michigan Municipal League/Flickr
A legal "toolbox" could allow cities to band together and put up a millage to pay for essential services.

These are trying times for cities in Michigan, thanks in large part to big cuts in state revenue sharing and real estate values that cratered during the economic meltdown.

On top of all that, Proposal A and the Headlee Amendment limits local municipalities' ability to collect taxes.

As a result, many communities say they're out of options. They can't cut any deeper and they can't raise the money needed to provide operations. 

Public finance expert Michael McGee has come up with a possible solution: a legal "toolbox" that could allow cities to band together and put up a millage to pay for essential services. 

Two cities in Southeast Michigan, Hazel Park and Eastpointe, have teamed up this way. More cities are taking a closer look at this toolbox, including Wayne, where voters will decide in August whether to join up with Eastpointe and Hazel Park. 

GUEST Michael McGee is principal and chief executive officer of Miller Canfield. His special area of expertise is public finance.

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