Booher, local officials attend PILT reform bill signing

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher and local Northern Michigan officials attended a bill signing with Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday. The ceremony was in honor of Booher’s legislation officially enacted last month to increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local governments for state-owned land within their boundaries.

“Some local units of government in Northern Michigan have had more than half of their land base taken off the tax rolls because the state owns so much land in those areas,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This long-overdue reform ensures that local governments and schools receive these important funds on time, in full and at a fair rate. The new laws increase payment rates for the first time since 1986 – representing inflation during the past 27 years. This will help reduce the negative impact on schools and local governments when private land is bought by the state.”

Public Acts 603 and 604 of 2012 address repetitive problems with payments in lieu of taxes by:
• Increasing PILT by ensuring payments are based on current taxable values and millage rates and raising the payment rates on tax-reverted land from $2 per acre to $4 per acre;
• Adding a penalty on the state for not making payments on time – identical to penalties assessed on landowners who do not pay property taxes; and
• Requiring PILT to be made by Feb. 14 to locals that submit their information as required.

When the state purchases land, that land is removed from the local property tax rolls. To make up for the loss of this property tax revenue, the state is supposed to pay PILT or swamp taxes to the affected local units of government and school districts.

The funding increases will be phased-in during the next two years. Once fully phased-in, the local governments in the 35th Senate District will see a total increase of about $1.4 million.

Approximate increases for counties and their townships include: Benzie County $123,500; Clare County $91,000; Kalkaska County $294,500; Lake County $115,500; Leelanau County $34,500; Manistee County $41,000; Mecosta County $17,000; Missaukee County $160,000; Osceola County $26,000; Roscommon County $380,000; and Wexford County $104,500.

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Editor’s Note: A print-quality photograph of Booher at the governor’s bill signing is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on the Photowire tab.

Booher, Franz and Potvin: Eliminating blight about revitalizing communities and local economies

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher and Reps. Ray Franz and Phil Potvin announced today that Manistee, Reed City and Leelanau County are among 34 local government entities that have been awarded funding to help eliminate blight in their communities.

“Michigan residents deserve to live in an area that has a vibrant economy and is a safe place to raise their families,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I was proud to be involved in the creation of the Blight Elimination Program, which will use foreclosure settlement dollars to help revitalize our communities and help clear the way for economic development and job creation.”

Reed City will receive $370,000; the City of Manistee Housing Commission has been awarded $90,500; and the Leelanau County Land Bank will get $58,500.

“I am happy to see that Reed City was awarded this grant,” said Potvin, R-Cadillac. “This is a great shot in the arm for the community as they continue their revitalization efforts. I look forward to seeing the positive results of this grant.”

Funding for the awards comes from a March 2012 settlement on mortgage foreclosure practices reached by 49 state attorneys general, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

The Legislature allocated $25 million of Michigan’s $97.2 million share to create the Blight Elimination Program to help communities demolish vacant and abandoned properties in an effort to increase public safety, stabilize property values and enhance development opportunities. $10 million was set for demolition in Detroit and $15 million for projects elsewhere in Michigan.

“The outward look of our communities is a reflection of whether local prospects are going up or going down and often it is better for there to be an open space rather than a dilapidated, run-down property,” said Franz, R-Onekama. “These grants will give a terrific boost to reinvigorating hope for future developments that can help the area and people living there.”

The Blight Elimination Program is a partnership between the Department of Human Services, the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The state received more than 90 funding requests during the recent application phase. 

“Cleaning up blighted and abandoned properties can have a tremendous, positive effect on a community and its residents – from safer routes to schools to increased home values,” Booher said. “I will continue to work to help transform and strengthen our local communities.”

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Rendon, Booher announce road grant

LANSING – The Roscommon County Road Commission will receive a $375,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation for work on CR400 in Roscommon and Denton townships.

The construction project will cover from Loxley Road to Townline Road on the stretch of highway also known as Emery Road.

“It’s important to maintain our northern Michigan roads where frequent weather changes impact the quality and lifetime of the surfaces so drastically,” said Rep. Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City. “As someone who daily travels across our region to meet people and attend local events, I can attest to the priority we must place on ensuring our roads are in top shape so people can get safely to work or play, and for goods to move efficiently and on time to market or for processing.”

MDOT’s Category F grants are made to eligible road agencies to preserve or expand all-season road networks, which are more costly to build due to a deeper base foundation and thicker pavement layer to limit frost heaving and weight restrictions.

Sen. Darwin Booher said the competitive nature of this grant shows that local communities are coming up with effective plans for maintaining local roads.

“I am proud that the Roscommon County Road Commission put forth a proactive plan and has been awarded a Transportation Economic Development Fund grant,” said Booher, R-Evart.

Rendon can be contacted by addressing letters to the State Capitol, Lansing, MI 48909-7514; calling his toll-free Lansing office number at 1-888-DIST-103 (1-888-347-8103); sending email to brucerendon@house.mi.gov or visiting his online office website at www.RepBruceRendon.com.

Residents may contact Booher toll-free at 1-866-305-2135, by visiting his website at www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com or via email at: sendbooher@senate.michigan.gov. Letters may also be mailed to Booher at: Sen. Darwin Booher; P.O. Box 30036; Lansing, MI 48909.

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Sen. Booher offers free tax preparation guides

LANSING—Northern Michigan residents who need tax preparation information can download a free copy of the 2013 Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide by visiting Sen. Darwin Booher’s website, the lawmaker said Tuesday.

The guide, which is a reference for the 2012 tax year, is designed to help residents prepare their state tax returns.

“It is important for residents to have reliable, up-to-date information when they prepare their annual taxes and plan for their local property taxes,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I am proud to offer this taxpayer’s guide free to the constituents of the 35th Senate District. It is a valuable resource that I encourage everyone to use while filling out their 2012 state tax forms.”

The booklet contains information on Michigan’s income tax, property taxes and tax credits. Included is a year-long listing of important property tax dates and deadlines as well as copies of the most commonly used tax forms. The guide also features addresses, phone numbers and email information for obtaining state agency tax assistance.

Booher added that the guide is meant as a helpful resource and not as a substitute for Michigan Department of Treasury tax instruction booklets.

Free copies of the 2013 Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide may be downloaded by visiting www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com and clicking on the “Publications” tab. 

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Sen. Booher offers free tax preparation guides

LANSING—Northern Michigan residents who need tax preparation information can download a free copy of the 2013 Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide by visiting Sen. Darwin Booher’s website, the lawmaker said Tuesday.

The guide, which is a reference for the 2012 tax year, is designed to help residents prepare their state tax returns.

“It is important for residents to have reliable, up-to-date information when they prepare their annual taxes and plan for their local property taxes,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I am proud to offer this taxpayer’s guide free to the constituents of the 35th Senate District. It is a valuable resource that I encourage everyone to use while filling out their 2012 state tax forms.”

The booklet contains information on Michigan’s income tax, property taxes and tax credits. Included is a year-long listing of important property tax dates and deadlines as well as copies of the most commonly used tax forms. The guide also features addresses, phone numbers and email information for obtaining state agency tax assistance.

Booher added that the guide is meant as a helpful resource and not as a substitute for Michigan Department of Treasury tax instruction booklets.

Free copies of the 2013 Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide may be downloaded by visiting www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com and clicking on the “Publications” tab. 

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Booher private forestland management bills approved by Senate

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved Sen. Darwin Booher’s legislation to help educate property owners on the benefits of managing private land for timber harvest, habitat development and recreation.

“The goal of this package is to encourage management of Michigan’s private forestlands by helping landowners learn about the advantages of managing their land,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Only 20 percent of the state’s 11 million acres of private land is actively managed. That means there is great potential for increased economic opportunities through enhanced land management. This is especially true for our forestlands.”

Senate Bill 56 would allow conservation districts to advise landowners about the value of managing their land for timber harvest, habitat, conservation and recreation, while SB 51 would implement changes to the Qualified Forest Program to encourage landowners to enroll in the program and actively manage their forestland.

Other highlights in the nine-bill Senate package include:
• Transferring oversight of the Qualified Forest program, from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development;
• Requiring the Environmental Assurance Advisory Council to develop an assessment tool designed to help landowners assess the value of managing their lands;
• Updating the Commercial Forest program to allow current enrollees to transfer to the Qualified Forest Program for one year without being penalized; and
• Making lands eligible for the 18-mill agricultural exemption if more than half of the acreage is devoted for a combination of agricultural use and use as qualified forest land.

“If enacted into law, these proactive initiatives could help develop a mutually beneficial partnership between landowners and conservation districts to achieve a common goal – the effective and healthy management of private forests,” Booher said.

SBs 51-59 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Booher joins senators in calling for emergency and long-term solutions to dredging problem

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, discusses the immediate need for the state to address the impact of low water levels on Michigan’s waterways. Booher participated in a press conference at the Capitol outlining short- and long-term plans to help manage and maintain the state’s ports for shipping and recreational boating.

“I have seen firsthand how sandbars and low water levels are combining to turn some Northern Michigan harbors into a hazard for boaters – putting millions in economic activity at risk,” said Booher, a member of the new Senate Waterways Caucus. “Healthy harbors are important to supporting local jobs and ensuring recreational access to our lakes and rivers. I want to thank the governor for recognizing action is needed, but we must look at a long-term solution for our harbors as well.”

Pictured with Booher from left to right are: Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy; Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City; and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.

Editor’s Note: A print-quality photograph of Booher is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on “Photowire.”

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Booher private forestland management bills approved by Senate

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved Sen. Darwin Booher’s legislation to help educate property owners on the benefits of managing private land for timber harvest, habitat development and recreation.

“The goal of this package is to encourage management of Michigan’s private forestlands by helping landowners learn about the advantages of managing their land,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Only 20 percent of the state’s 11 million acres of private land is actively managed. That means there is great potential for increased economic opportunities through enhanced land management. This is especially true for our forestlands.”

Senate Bill 56 would allow conservation districts to advise landowners about the value of managing their land for timber harvest, habitat, conservation and recreation, while SB 51 would implement changes to the Qualified Forest Program to encourage landowners to enroll in the program and actively manage their forestland.

Other highlights in the nine-bill Senate package include:
• Transferring oversight of the Qualified Forest program, from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development;
• Requiring the Environmental Assurance Advisory Council to develop an assessment tool designed to help landowners assess the value of managing their lands;
• Updating the Commercial Forest program to allow current enrollees to transfer to the Qualified Forest Program for one year without being penalized; and
• Making lands eligible for the 18-mill agricultural exemption if more than half of the acreage is devoted for a combination of agricultural use and use as qualified forest land.

“If enacted into law, these proactive initiatives could help develop a mutually beneficial partnership between landowners and conservation districts to achieve a common goal – the effective and healthy management of private forests,” Booher said.

SBs 51-59 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Booher: Governor’s plan focuses on priorities of education, transportation and natural resources

LANSING? Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, issued the following statement Thursday after listening to Gov. Rick Snyder’s fiscal year 2014 state budget presentation:

“I am proud that the governor’s plan builds on the achievements of financially sound budgets and an economy in recovery while increasing support for the key priorities of educating our students, addressing our transportation needs and protecting our natural resources.

“It is great news for all Michigan students to see an increased support for all levels of education. The budget plan features a $272 million increase for K-12 education and a similar 2 percent increase for community colleges and universities. I am especially pleased to see that more money is being dedicated to close the gap between our lowest and highest funded schools.

“I am also pleased to see a dedication to early childhood education. An increase of $130 million for the state’s Great Start Readiness Program will have a tremendous impact on academic success by ensuring more students are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.

“The governor also called for a significant increase in the state’s efforts to fix and maintain our roads and bridges. As a member of the new Senate Infrastructure Modernization Committee, I will work with my colleagues to evaluate the governor’s plan – and all other ideas – and bring a Northern Michigan perspective on a way to fix our roads in the most cost-effective manner possible.

“Our harbors are part of our infrastructure, and I applaud the governor for pledging $21.5 million to meet our immediate dredging needs so that our harbors are safe for boaters. In 2014, the governor also plans on using an additional $9.4 million for dredging to address low water levels.

“Enjoying the outdoors is a vital part of life in Northern Michigan, so it is good to see that the governor’s budget includes more funds for protecting our natural resources and enhancing recreational access to our parks and waterways.

“I also want to thank the governor for his ongoing support for public safety and tourism. His plan includes $15.2 million to train an additional 107 troopers to keep our communities safe and a $4 million increase for Pure Michigan to continue to attract visitors to our state.”

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Booher named to Senate Infrastructure Modernization Committee

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher announced today he has been named to a new standing committee that will review and address Gov. Snyder’s transportation funding proposals.

“Quality roads and bridges are important for the safety of Michigan drivers and for the ability of the state to attract new jobs and entrepreneurs,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Our aging transportation infrastructure needs to be addressed, but the best solution to the problem is unclear. I am open to considering any and all ideas that will fix our roads in the most cost-effective manner possible, and I look forward to getting to work.”

In addition to Booher, the seven-member panel includes the chairs of the Senate Appropriations and Finance committees and will consider all transportation and infrastructure funding proposals.

“The solution we adopt should have a significant impact on our economy and way of life,” Booher said. “I am proud to bring a Northern Michigan perspective to this statewide issue. Road safety and infrastructure funding are critically important issues for Northern Michigan communities. Tourism, agriculture and manufacturing are key job providers and both industries rely on quality roads. They bring our goods to market and visitors to our region.”

The nine transportation funding measures that have already been introduced in the Senate will be re-referred to the new Senate Infrastructure Modernization Committee.

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