Hansen bill enabling local units of government to improve waterfronts headed to governor

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LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a measure sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen that would enable local units of government to establish districts for financing a variety of waterfront improvement activities.

Senate Bill 218 is now on its way to the governor to be signed into law. The legislation would restore and expand the tax increment financing authority for water resource improvement, an economic development tool that expired at the end of 2011.

“This bill represents a local financing tool that can be used to keep Michigan’s ports, harbors and waterways accessible and sustainable for both commercial and recreational traffic,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “As chair of the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee, I’m committed to developing short- and long-term solutions to address the dredging problems facing our waterways.”

Under Hansen’s measure, the use of the authority would be expanded to include dredging, the removal of spoils, or other improvements or maintenance activities that enhance navigability of a waterway. The bill also increases the scope of a waterfront improvement district and the activities of the waterfront improvement authority board.

Tax increment financing (TIF) is an economic development tool designed to capture the tax revenue from the incremental growth in property value within a district, for use in financing public improvements in that area. It generally has been used in commercial and industrial areas.

Local officials in Pentwater asked Hansen to consider reinstituting the water resource improvement TIF to help prevent a potential catastrophe with their waterways.

“As we work to develop a comprehensive dredging strategy for Michigan, it’s critical that we alleviate an emergency that currently exists,” Hansen said.

Several waterways bills have recently been approved by the Legislature and signed into law. These include measures to provide emergency funding for local dredging projects; to create a private marina loan origination fee program; and to streamline the dredging permit process.

Note: Audio remarks will be available for broadcast Thursday from this website. Click on Podcasts, above.

For more information on the issue of waterways dredging and accessibility, click on Hansen Homepage, above. Then click Waterways Dredging & Accessibility.

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