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TITLE:
Confronting Fiscal Stress in Municipal Governments: Support by Michigan Residents for Eight Common Strategies

AUTHOR(S):
Jered Carr, Wayne State University

DOCUMENT TYPE: Article

ABSTRACT:

This report discusses findings from a survey of 660 randomly selected Michigan residents in winter 2007. The survey examined attitudes of Michigan residents toward eight strategies to resolving situations where current revenues are inadequate to support local services at past levels. The strategies examined fall into two broad categories. The first set (tax increases, state and federal aid) seeks to increase local revenues available to support services at previously existing levels and quality. The second set of strategies focus on reducing the costs of providing services with the objective of maintaining previous levels at a lower cost. This set includes two subgroups of strategies: those that reduce labor costs (layoff employees, reduce employee compensation) and those that alter existing service delivery arrangements (transfer responsibility for the service to the county, state, or a special district government; consolidate the municipality’s service operations with that of another local government; and contract for services from a for-profit organization, a nonprofit agency, or another local government) to reduce the costs of provising local services. Respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed with the use of each strategy to resolve funding shortfalls in five different local public services: (1) maintaining and repairing local streets and roads, (2) operation of parks and recreational programs, (3) fire fighting, (4) trash and garbage collection, and (5) police street patrol.