MLive Kalamazoo examines coming financial troubles for local governments

Jul 22, 2013

Kalamazoo County Administration Building - file photo
Credit WMUK


Municipal leaders in the Kalamazoo area say they are rethinking revenue and consolidation of services. 

Leaders of local governments heard a presentation last week. They were told that the current model of local government is non sustainable

Julie Mack writes in a column that Kalamazoo does not face the same problems as other cities such as Detroit, Benton Harbor and Flint. But there are still disturbing trends in both spending and raising revenue. 

Mack told WMUK's Gordon Evans that local governments see little growth in their revenue because they rely mostly on property taxes. There are limits on how much revenue can grow from property taxes. Mack says that means that local governments don't see much windfall from boom times, and have trouble setting aside a rainy day fund for an economic downturn. 

Mack says local government leaders are looking at consolidating services to hold down costs. That includes public safety, especially fire services. But she says there is a lot of political resistance to consolidation. Mack says local income tax, or a county-wide sales tax could help bring in more revenue. But she says that would require a change in the Michigan Constitution.