Last Week in the House

Last week was a little too busy to post, so ctaching up this morning.

– The proposal to add a miles-traveled baseline to comprehensive plans got media coverage last week.  It’s an idea that makes a lot of sense, though the utility of it is going to depend heavily on how user-friendly the model created by the U of M might end up being.

– Bills to make Housing Improvement Areas permanent are circulating through the Legislature, and hopefully will pass.  These powers fill a void, namely, infrastructure in condos and association housing that is essentially public but can’t be funded under normal assessment laws.   Some new bills creating “street improvement districts”, including two last week, don’t have such an obvious need, given that street improvements are the #1 use of special assessments.  The structure of these bills tend to allow the “gain” of special assessments – revenue outside of general-fund taxes – without the “pain” of special benefit or citizens’ ability to appeal.  The first thing you notice is what appears to be an end run around due process, which is probably going to hold up these proposals.  An idea in these bills that should carry forward, though, is the ability to spread the cost of a street improvement beyond those landowners directly abutting the street – after all, if the city repaves the road at the freeway interchange, my business a half-mile off of the road still benefits from the improvement. My thought is that this should be explored as a change to assessment law in 429, rather than as a brand-new process that skirts around basic taxpayer protections.

– The House and Senate introduced bills to shorten the cycle for calculating fiscal-disparities payments.  I’m not sure that this is the year that local governments want this process sped up.

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