Rising Revenues Never Enough For Michigan Cities And Their Lobbyist

If roads aren’t getting fixed, it’s not because there’s less money

The Michigan Municipal League collects dues from and lobbies on behalf of local governments, which pay dues out of their tax-funded budgets. As part of an ongoing public relations campaign aimed at collecting more for cities from state taxpayers, the league and its members have claimed for years that Michigan suffers under a “fundamentally broken finance system.”

In a recent podcast posted on the league’s website, Traverse City Commissioner Richard Lewis implied that his city lacks money to repair its streets.

“We’re not flush with cash,” Lewis said. “We still lack a lot of infrastructure we got to do. ... There are streets that aren’t being prepared. ... The cash isn’t there. ... We have got streets that are in just total disrepair.”

ForTheRecord says: In 2010, according to audited reports, revenues totaling $12.63 million flowed into Traverse City’s general fund. By 2017, the city was collecting $14.88 million in general fund revenues. If adjusted for inflation, the amount collected in 2010 would be worth $14.20 million in 2017 dollars, meaning in 2017 Traverse City had an extra $680,000 to spend on regular operations.

Total city revenues rose from $19.29 million in 2010 to $22.82 million in 2017. If Traverse City isn’t getting its roads fixed it’s not because the city is collecting less money.

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As part of our efforts on government transparency, we obtained data on the compensation of most public employees in the state. This information has been used to fact check claims about salaries, verify data from other open records requests, and hold government spending accountable.

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