New center at MSU to help Michigan cities get finances in order

Municipal finance may not be the sexiest subject, but in the current age of emergency management and local government austerity in Michigan, it's at the front of many local officials' and city residents' minds. In the wake of the Great Recession, many Michigan cities are still struggling to maintain core services on budgets made leaner by steep declines in property tax revenue. Since 2010, the state has declared financial emergencies in eight municipalities and placed them under the authority of various emergency managers, all to various effect.

But a new resource now exists to help municipalities get their fiscal houses in order before they reach that point. Last fall, the Michigan State University Extension launched the Center for Local Government and Finance, whose staff "works directly with communities to improve their fiscal health and help them thrive." The center has already worked with a handful of clients including the cities of Detroit, Lansing, and Flint.

According to Crain's Detroit Business, the center will expand its efforts in 2016: "The center will hold workshops, research municipal fiscal trends, act as consultants to local governments and issue an annual report on the financial health of each Michigan municipality."

Read more: Crain's Detroit Business