2017-10-19 / News

Mackinac County Hosts Other Counties at Island Conference


Mackinac County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Hill speaks at the Michigan Association of Counties conference at Grand Hotel Monday, September 25. (Photograph by Rod Sanford Photography) Mackinac County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Hill speaks at the Michigan Association of Counties conference at Grand Hotel Monday, September 25. (Photograph by Rod Sanford Photography) The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) held a conference on Mackinac Island in September that drew more than 300 participants from throughout the state. Nearly 200 of the attendees were county commissioners taking part in educational workshops on topics ranging from Michigan’s agriculture economy to social media.

Mackinac County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Hill welcomed attendees Monday, September 25. He was joined by several other representatives from Mackinac County, including commissioners Diane Patrick and Calvin “Bucky” McPhee, clerk Lori Johnston, and treasurer Jennifer Goudreau.

MAC, which was founded in 1898, represents the counties of Michigan in Lansing, monitoring the legislature for regulations that could impact county governments.

“They make sure the interests of Michigan counties are represented,”

Mr. Hill said, providing guidance to officials and lobbying legislators when necessary.

During his seven years on the Mackinac County commission, Mr. Hill has used the MAC conferences to network with other county officials, creating a list of people to contact when challenges arise.

One of the most important common challenges counties in Michigan face, Mr. Hill said, is the state’s taxing regulations of bigbox stores like Meijer, Target, and Wal-Mart. Since 2010, big-box stores in Michigan have been paying low property taxes, as if the stores were vacant rather than functioning businesses. Municipalities and county governments are losing significant tax revenue, Mr. Hill said. Organizations like MAC are trying to have the loophole overturned, although current efforts have stalled.

The tax issue isn’t a problem in Mackinac County because there are no big-box stores here, Mr. Hill said, but it is a problem for neighboring Chippewa County. Mr. Hill said the exemption could trickle down to smaller retailers like Hobby Lobby or Radio Shack, which could present challenges for the county soon.

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