Survey: Local governments get brief revenue breather, but struggles continue

Oct 19, 2011

Tough times are likely to continue for most of the state’s local governments.

The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan asked about the financial condition of the state’s cities, townships,  villages and counties.

“For most jurisdictions in the state of Michigan, things are bad and continuing to get worse," says Tom Ivacko, a Ford School spokesman.

Ivacko says some places are doing better because of a slowdown in property tax declines. He says that could be attributed to fewer foreclosures in the wake of widespread processing fraud.

He says communities are still struggling with state-aid cuts and increasing infrastructure needs.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey also finds local governments are trying to cope with the loss of revenue by collaborating with other governments.

Some tap into their general fund and "rainy-day" balances to offset the drop in revenue.

The survey found many employees are paying more for their health care coverage, that local governments are decreasing staffing, and in some cases the number of services they provide.

Some local governments are charging more for fees, licenses and permits.