Battle Creek Dodging A Budget Bullet
Battle Creek is being saved from a pending federal numbers rule that could have reduced tax funds coming back to the city. Several other Michigan cities also faced the reduced federal funding issue including Jackson, Midland, Niles, Benton Harbor, and Monroe.
The original plan was being promoted by a number of federal bureaucrats in Washington. They had things nearly locked in to change the underlying numbers for a city to be called a “Metropolitan Statistical Area” or MSA. That’s been sort of like a badge of status for smaller cities in America. If a city is so designated, it qualifies for lots of federal financial support programs.
But a lobbying effort by leaders of smaller cities nationwide, along with elected members of Congress has been pressuring the feds to drop the idea of requiring a population of a minimum of 100,000 to remain an MSA. To be fair, some of the bureaucrats promoting the change had also said they didn’t want the change to impact how much money Washington sent back to local communities. But most federal funding programs send money based on minimum population numbers or that baseline status of being declared an MSA.
The current population level needed to qualify as an MSA is 50,000 so Battle Creek has no problem maintaining that status with a population of around 78,000. Bumping it to 100K could have meant yet another huge budget hit on the city which is already being forced to make huge changes due to revenue losses from the COVID-19 outbreak. And more budget cuts are being reviewed now by city leaders.
Michigan US Senator Gary Peters is claiming he played a big role in the plan being reversed. He’s releasing a public information notice proclaiming, “Communities of all sizes across Michigan and the United States are counting on federal resources to recover from the ongoing unprecedented public health and economic crisis. I’m grateful to Acting Director Young and others at OMB for working with me and rejecting this potentially harmful proposal. I’ll continue my efforts to ensure Michigan’s communities and their residents are not left vulnerable at a time when support from the federal government is so important.”