Senate approves legislation to help local governments realize savings
LANSING — The Michigan Senate today approved legislation designed to remove barriers to local government consolidation and help save taxpayer dollars without state mandates, said bill sponsors Sens. Mark C. Jansen and Bill Hardiman.
“In today’s economy local governments partnering together to continue providing quality services to their communities is an excellent way of using taxpayer dollars as efficiently as possible,” said Jansen, R-Gaines Township. “This bill will remove a barrier in law for those local government entities that want to share services or consolidate functions and I will continue to work toward removing any barriers.”
Under Senate Bills 1085 and 1086, increasing certain pay and benefit levels for employees would not be required when employees or functions transfer from one local entity to another under an inter-local agreement.
Despite potential cost savings, local governments often resist consolidating services due to the fear of bringing employees on a lower pay scale to the same wages and benefits of higher paid employees.
“Making sure the rules of the game are clear and removing roadblocks to local consolidation will allow more communities to share services and reduce costs,” said Hardiman, R-Kentwood. “By consolidating certain services, officials at the local level can still provide the programs and assistance area residents need while saving taxpayer dollars. These are the type of reforms Michigan must implement to use our tax dollars more effectively and efficiently.”
SBs 1085 and 1086 would allow the public employer to set employee compensation per an inter-local agreement that may include collective bargaining, but would not impair existing contracts.
The Senate also approved an additional reform measure designed to save taxpayer dollars by improving the arbitration process for local police and fire departments.
Senate Bill 1072 would amend Public Act 312 to expedite the arbitration process for police and fire department employees by strengthening the training and quality of arbitrators and reducing timelines. The measure also maintains arbitrator consideration of a community’s ability to pay an award which has been in the statute since 1969.
The measures, which could save the state $70 million to $118 million, have been sent to the state House for further consideration.
Editor’s note: Audio remarks are available for broadcast from the Senate Majority Audiowire on the Web at: www.senate.michigan.gov/podcasts.asp?District=28 (Jansen)
and www.senate.michigan.gov/podcasts.asp?District=29 (Hardiman)
Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010
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