Michigan Township Association

Tuesday, April 18

Business Solution Sessionsallied service provider logo
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
These sessions, presented by MTA Allied Service Providers, provide information about various aspects of products and services available to assist townships.

Empowering America’s Financial Journey
The pandemic and economic uncertainty have created significant challenges for the government sector and its employees. Given this environment, this session seeks to provide a comprehensive view of state and local government employees’ defined contribution savings behavior and retirement preparations. We’ll review the current state of Americans’ financial health and confidence, and help you understand the impact of inflation and recessionary fears. Learn how Americans are coping with rising prices and how inflation is changing retirement savings rates.Burnham & Flower logo
Speakers: Martin Gomez, Regional Sales Director, Empower, along with Burnham & Flower Insurance Group representatives Todd Carless, Carrie Desjardins and Jeff Carless

How a Cyberattack Can Send Your Township Back Decades
Handwritten paper checks, fax machines, no email … oh my! No township is immune to the threat of a potential cyberattack. Cyber criminals target public entities of all shapes and sizes. These attacks can be embarrassing, expose citizens to cyberattacks, and significantly disrupt the essential services you provide. As such, public entities must prepare for the worst-case scenario by adopting a culture of security. While cultural change can be challenging, when accomplished, a security culture will become infectious and lower the chances of your township being involved in a costly and potentially embarrassing breach. Join us to learn more about the realities of a cyberattack and how one attack can send your township operations back to the ‘90s. We will discuss the latest trends in cyberattacks and share tips and tools to help protect your township operations from being hijacked.Michigan Townships Participating Plan logo
Speakers: Representatives from the Michigan Township Participating Plan

Hot Legal Topics Facing Townships in 2023: What to do…if anything?
Foster Swift attorneys will offer a practical perspective of some of the hot topics facing Michigan including but not limited to marijuana, energy, environmental, special assessments and compliance and changes to Michigan’s employment law. Do you have a topic you want addressed? Email us at info@fosterswift.com by April 3, 2023. At least 2 of the most frequently emailed topics to this Business Solutions session.
Speakers: Attorneys from Foster Swift

Oh No, You Don’t—You Can’t Fire Me!
Learn tips and techniques on recognizing and dealing with the difficult employee, including how to successfully handle hostile encounters and exit interviews. Review strategies for stopping employee problems before they become grounds for termination—and if they do, how to effectively terminate the employee and minimize your exposure.Hartleb Insurance logo
Speaker: Heidi Hudson, Shareholder, Zausmer, PC on behalf of Hartleb Agency, an EMC Insurance Company

Solar Energy Regulation: Why Your Township Needs a Solar Ordinance
Townships are seeing a rapid increase in requests from energy providers and landowners to install solar energy arrays. Learn why having a well-crafted solar ordinance in place will allow your township to respond to these requests while ensuring that solar energy production is harmonious with surrounding land uses.
Mika Meyers logoSpeaker: Brad Fowler, Attorney,
Mika Meyers

Township Trivia Showdown
Don’t miss our fan-favorite session with a gameshow twist. Join us for a competitive game of township trivia, where two teams compete for ultimate bragging rights. You—the gameshow contestant—will have the chance to showcase your knowledge of township law and an opportunity to learn something new. Our game board is based on some of the most important questions township officials are asking. See if your team has what it takes to answer the questions correctly before our team of expert municipal attorneys weigh in on the correct answer. If you’d like to submit a question about township law for the chance to have it answered during the show, visit www.fsbrlaw.com/mta.Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes logo
Speakers: Representatives from Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC

Concurent Educational Sessions
1 to 2:15 p.m.

Beyond the Conflict: Building a Better Board with Consensus
Building consensus is often confused with compromise. If only consensus were that easy! Explore what it takes to build the series of small agreements necessary to reach consensus, resulting in win/wins for your board and your community. Forget giving in a little and instead focus on how you can approach issues “differently” to assure all stakeholders are united with One Voice!
Speaker: Nancy Ohle, President, Professional Training & Development Resources

Improving Your Township’s Financial Reporting
Looking to modernize and digitize your financial reporting? Then this session is for you! Come hear about a new partnership project working to create machine-readable audited financial statements. Explore the newly developed data standard, how it has impacted three pilot locations (a township, city and county) and how your township can get involved!
Speaker: Natalie Fitzpatrick, Project Manager, Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Insights from Inside the Capitol
With the new 102nd Legislative session underway, learn firsthand the priorities the governor and the Legislature hope to achieve this year, and what the change in the House and Senate majority means. What are the policy and budget issues in store, how has the change in power in the House and Senate impacted the action at the state Capitol and how will this impact townships, and what relevance did redistricting have on the Legislature? Discover the answers to these questions and more, including how they may impact your community and its residents. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn to navigate the issues and challenges of today’s political landscape, as well as learn how you can influence both current and emerging issues.
Speakers: MTA Government Relations Staff

The Pursuit of Great Township Governance
Good governance does not just happen because you are in charge! It requires a board culture that creates consistency and transparency in your processes. Effective township governance goes beyond operating within the law and practicing Robert’s Rules of Order. It includes how you talk to each other, how you connect with your community and how you advance the township. It also includes how you delegate and hold people accountable. This session will focus on creating an intentional governance culture that serves your community.
Speaker: Susan Radwan, Owner, Leading Edge Mentoring

Township Parks & Rec: Playful, Peaceful, Popular
Township trails and park popularity continues to grow around Michigan. Residents place a high value on access to green space and nature, but the benefits don’t stop there! Your township parks and recreation program can improve the physical and mental health of those you serve. They encourage more active lifestyles, increase property value and community engagement. Hear how other townships are getting into the great outdoors and walk away with ideas for enhancing your own!
Speakers: Wanda Bloomquist, Supervisor, Williamstown Township (Ingham Co.), and an invited panel of township officials

What the Heck Are These FOIA Requests?

You just opened an email asking for a whole bunch of township records. Got your attention? Learn what the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires and how all township officials must be prepared to respond. The basic steps for handling public requests for records will be highlighted.
Speaker: Catherine Mullhaupt, MTA Staff Attorney

Why Most Fire Departments Aren’t Ready for Electric Vehicles

The auto industry’s shift to producing more electric vehicles has far-reaching consequences for your township fire department. When electric vehicles go up in flames or are involved in accidents, they present different challenges than cars involving gasoline. Michigan is leading the way in batteries across the United States, which means our buildings, roadways and communities must adapt. The changing technologies will impact equipment and staffing as well. Gain insights into the new risks and how you can help your community prepare and respond.
Speaker: Michael O’Brian, Fire Chief, Brighton Area Fire Authority, and Chair, International Association of Fire Chiefs Lithium-ion Battery Work Group

Your Township’s Ordinance Enforcement Policy

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to townships, their ordinances and the best ways to enforce them, one thing is certain: the need for a consistent approach. Whether your township chooses proactive enforcement or is complaint driven, this session offers a better understanding of options for effective enforcement and strategies for documenting and pursing violations to your township’s ordinances.
Speaker: Seth Koches, MTA Legal Counsel, Bauckham, Thall, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches, PC

Concurent Educational Sessions
2:45 to 4 p.m.

Breaking Down Barriers to Affordable Housing
Housing is the cornerstone of thriving communities, and every person deserves safe, affordable and quality housing. Townships will soon have more control and authority when it comes to defining affordable housing within their own borders. Learn what’s new and what you can do, including incentives and partnership opportunities for stakeholders building or rehabbing affordable, long-term housing units in your community.
Speaker: Gary Heidel, Acting Executive Director, Michigan State Housing Development Authority

Crossing the Generational Communications Divide
One of the biggest communications barriers across generations is negative perceptions of the other. Your board must stay united on important decisions for the benefit of your community, and every opinion has value. You can be more supportive and collaborative when you understand the motivation, and preferred communication style, of others. From Millennials to Baby Boomers, Generations X to Z, gain perspective on preferences, styles and interpretations to improve your board relations and enhance your efforts to achieve One Voice.
Speaker: Mary Gladstone-Highland, MPA, CFRE, CNP, Founder, Spark Group Consulting

Here Comes the Sun: What Your Township Needs to do to Prepare for Solar Energy
As the state’s climate plan continues to drive renewable energy standards, it’s important that you understand both opportunities and challenges for your community. From siting and taxation to ensuring your zoning decisions weigh all the options, we’ll help you get a handle on all the considerations and why you should plan now. Walk away with practical, first-hand advice from our panel of experts.
Speakers: Catherine Kaufman and Seth Koches, MTA Legal Counsel, Bauckham, Thall, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches, PC; and Sarah Banas Mills, PhD, Senior Project Manager, Graham Sustainability Institute, Lecturer, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan

Keep Calm and Carry On
It’s happening everywhere and with increasing frequency. Angry individuals unleashing their opinions with profanity and aggression—in your board meetings, your office, even in the parking lot. Often, the bullies come armed with a video camera (or worse!) and attempt to goad you into bad behavior. Next thing you know, it’s all posted on social media. Maintaining your composure in the heat of the moment can be challenging, to say the least. Listen in as our experts break down this troubling behavior and offer techniques for handling these heated and uncomfortable situations, including what the law allows when constitutional lines are crossed.
Moderator: Nancy Ohle, President, Professional Training & Development Resources; Panelists: Steven Joppich, Shareholder, Rosati, Schultz, Joppich & Amtsbuechler, PC; Allie Walker, Vice President, Truscott Rossman; and Mike Wierenga, Co- founder, Two The Rescue LLC

Modernizing Michigan’s Waste Management
Landmark legislation recently updated Michigan’s solid waste laws that hadn’t been touched since the early 1990s. More recyclable material will now be diverted from landfills to recycling and composting. Learn more about the new tools your township has to increase waste diversion and protect the environment, and gain insights into regulatory and enforcement authority over composting and recycling facilities.
Speakers: Representatives from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Practical Approach to Records Management

Get an overview of records management from retention and disposal schedules to storage and destruction techniques. Walk away with tips for email retention and reproduction, and ways to tame your “paper tiger.”
Speaker: Sam Beland, Government Records Analyst, Records Management Services, Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget

Special Considerations in Public Safety Employment

Employing fire and police personnel brings with it certain additional obligations, special considerations and specific rules. From increased collective bargaining rights to tricky run-ins with the First Amendment, there is no shortage of stumbling blocks for townships seeking harmonious employment relations. Learn the ins and outs of public safety employment and avoid the pitfalls awaiting unwary township employers.
Speakers: Helen “Lizzie” Mills and Chad Karsten, Attorneys, Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC

Under Siege: Increasing Concerns of Public-Sector Cybersecurity
We all understand physical security threats, but like so many other things during the pandemic, the virtual presence of threats is increasing in alarming numbers. Cyberthreats are everywhere, and they affect everyone. A growing number of local public entities (including townships, villages and school districts) are facing malicious cyberattacks, too. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your township’s cybersecurity. Learn more about state’s cyber partners and how they can help your township prepare.
Speakers: Andy Brush, Michelle McClish and Donna Davis, Michigan Cyber Partners, Michigan Department of Management, Technology and Budget

What YOU Need to Know about Your Township’s Property Tax Rates
Every township—both general law and charter—has at least one “millage” provided by law, and many townships have additional voted millages providing revenues to the township. So every township board member must understand the board’s responsibility to annually set and levy its current property taxes. Learn what the board is actually authorizing and options you have regarding your township’s millage(s)—including scheduling millage ballot questions, setting the rate for the tax bill and approving the L-4029.
Speaker: Catherine Mullhaupt, MTA Staff Attorney

Wednesday, April 19

Plenary Educational Sessions
10:45 a.m. to noon

A Leader Worth Following
The world is starving for leaders who make a difference—those willing to step up to implement positive change and who are worthy of following. Our 2023 keynoter will explain various ways of approaching problems that allow people to come together, set aside misunderstandings, and utilize their own individual gifts to manage issues with vision and unity.
Speaker: MTA 2023 Conference Keynoter Randy Fox

Elections Update
Hear directly from the Secretary of State’s office and state Bureau of Elections on the hot issues in Michigan elections. Learn more about key topics for the 2023 election cycle, the changes and challenges that Proposal 2022-2 brings, legislative changes and so much more. Bring your questions!
Speakers: Representatives from the Bureau of Elections, Michigan Department of State

Hot Issues for Township Fire Departments
Providing emergency and fire protection services for your community may be one of the more complicated (and critical!) services your township provides. This session, led by the state fire marshal, will help you get a handle on the hottest issues facing your township fire department, including required continuing education training for all fire department members, insights into recruitment and retention, the mental health of our first responders, and more. You won’t want to miss this update!
Speaker: State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer, Bureau of Fire Services, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Raising Revenue in a Stagnant Economy
Every township faces increasing demands for service. Considering limited, diminishing and sometimes downright stagnant revenues to meet those demands, modern townships must get creative! Explore fundraising options from crowdsourcing to grants and donations, to user fees and special assessments. Review the basic elements, and critical legalities, of fundraising options, from how to accept donations and grants to how to establish user fees and charges while complying with Bolt v. City of Lansing rate-setting requirements.
Speaker: Steve Mann, Attorney, Miller Canfield

Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Most townships find themselves on the front lines when it comes to the challenges (and frustrations) that revolve around roads, and misnomers abound regarding a township’s authority and obligations. We’ll help you navigate these treacherous avenues and provide a road map to help you understand where the rubber meets the road. Learn more about township’s limited regulatory authority over roads and what options are available to your township if you choose to help fund and finance road improvements.
Speaker: Rob Thall, MTA Legal Counsel, Bauckham, Thall, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches, PC

Concurrent Educational Sessions
1 to 2:15 p.m.

Community Connection LIVE
Don’t miss this peer-to-peer discussion of challenges and opportunities facing full-service townships. Participants are encouraged to contribute by bringing your own questions (or ideas!) to share with the panelists. Please remember that this discussion conveys the experience, advice and opinions of your fellow officials who may have handled similar situations in their own townships; it should not be construed as formal MTA or legal advice.
Moderator: Neil Sheridan, MTA Executive Director; panelists to be announced

Dual-Use Solar Energy Projects
Renewable energy, particularly solar, is expanding the footprint of energy production into Michigan’s rural communities. In some townships, solar energy applications are met with concerns about loss of agricultural land and the ability to produce food and fiber. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Come learn how some communities are combining solar arrays with grazing, pollinator habitat and certain crops, and explore the real and potential benefits to soil, insects and crops (both on- and off-site). We’ll share sample zoning language for large-scale utility projects and as a starting point for discussion when adopting or amending solar zoning regulation in your township.
Speakers: Charles Gould, Bioenergy Educator, and Mary Reilly, Land Use Educator, Michigan State University Extension; and a representative from Invenergy

Government Oversight of Townships: Use of ARPA Funds
With a divided Congress and investigations expected to be in overdrive, learn how to prepare and respond to a federal audit or request for information on how your township spent its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Learn about documentation and audit requirements, and proper responses to federal and congressional inquiries.
Speakers: Ron Liscombe and Steve Mann, Attorneys, Miller Canfield

How the New Wage and Hour Laws Impact Your Township
February brings the outcome of litigation involving the Earned Sick Time and the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act. These laws impact, among other things, sick pay benefits and minimum wage for all Michigan employees. Join us as we break down the outcome of the battle between the Michigan Legislature and the Court of Claims, and walk away with clear guidelines on what wages and benefits Michigan townships must provide in 2023 and beyond.
Speaker: Michael Blum, Attorney, Foster Swift

Road Relations: Stay in Your Lane
Explore the options and benefits of partnering with your road commission
to fix the damn roads. We’ll share practical strategies and stories of collaboration, and offer insights into what works and what doesn’t!
Speakers: Joanna Johnson, Managing Director, Road Commission of Kalamazoo County, and Chair, Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council; Rob Thall, MTA Legal Counsel, Bauckham, Thall, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches, PC; and Jennifer Tubbs, Manager, Watertown Charter Township (Clinton Co.), and Board Member, Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council

Taking Township Minutes
Meeting adjourned? Time to prepare the minutes! You won’t want to miss this review of requirements and recommendations when it comes to the official record of your township’s meetings. You’ll get tips on taking better minutes, including what should (and shouldn’t!) be included and answers to the most commonly asked questions (like when minutes should be available). We’ll also discuss where they must be published, how long they should be kept and much more.
Speaker: Cindy Dodge, MTA Member Information Services Liaison

The Township Board Has One Voice—How Does it Sound?
Whether you have a five- or seven-member board, every member has the same power … one vote. A majority of those votes becomes the decision—and voice—of the board. Explore the importance, and power, of your board speaking with One Voice and walk away with tips to ensure your board’s voice is loud and clear, instead of quiet and muffled.
Speaker: Mike Selden, MTA Director of Member Information Services

What Changes Are Proposed for the MTA Policy Platform
Learn about the proposed 2023 Policy Platform from a panel of MTA directors who serve on the MTA Legislative Policy Platform Committee. Panelists will discuss the proposed changes to the policy platform and receive comments from attendees. This session allows delegates to learn the rationale behind the proposed changes and have their questions addressed prior to the Annual Meeting, where the proposed policy platform will be formally introduced.
Speakers: Members of the MTA Board of Directors and MTA Government Relations Staff

What Your Township Can Do to Get Funded for Broadband
Too many Michiganders are cut off from the opportunities that high-speed internet makes possible. Is your township struggling with good internet service? You won’t want to miss this state and federal update on options and initiatives for bridging the digital divide! Come learn more about the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, a federal grant program designed to get all Americans online. We’ll help you understand how your township can get involved.
Speakers: Ben Fineman, Federal Program Officer, Michigan Office of Internet Connectivity & Growth, National Telecommunications & Info Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; and Eric Frederick, Chief Connectivity Officer, Michigan High-Speed Internet Office

You’ve Got PFAS in Your Community! Now What?
The number of Michigan communities contaminated with the highly toxic substance known as PFAS continues to grow. We’ll share what you need to know on the importance of collaboration, from discovery of contaminated areas to ensuring public health protection, including community awareness.
Speaker: Abigail Henderson, Executive Director, Michigan PFAS Action Response Team

Concurrent Educational Sessions
2:45 to 4 p.m.

Advantages of Aerial Imagery
Looking for a way to improve your sense of how (and where) your township is growing? Think the cost of aerial imagery puts it out of reach? Think again. Learn more about the benefits this technology brings to your township, from accurate assessing records to emergency services, and how partnering with the state’s imagery program can bring the technology to your community.
Speakers: Everett Root and Ulrika Zay, Office of Technology Partnerships, Center for Shared Resources, Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget

Dissecting Your Township’s Zoning Decisions
Renewable energy, marijuana and aggregate mining, oh my! How can you ensure that your township’s zoning decisions survive legal scrutiny? Join us at this session; we can help! We’ll walk you through different types of zoning decisions, and offer insights into considerations, appeal potential and more.
Speakers: Catherine Kaufman, MTA Legal Counsel, Bauckham, Thall, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches, PC; and Andy Moore, AICP, Williams & Works

Express Yourself
To establish and maintain clear communications with others, what we say is just as important as what we do! Learn how to create—and deliver—a clear, concise message and handle questions with tact and diplomacy. Join us for this review of verbal and non-verbal communication skills to help you strengthen your own style and gain a better understanding of what others may be conveying to you with their own body language.
Speaker: Cindy Lakin-Morley, Managing Partner, Morley Management Services LLC

Introduction to Infrastructure Initiatives
Have you heard about Michigan’s Water Asset Management Council? What about its “sister council,” the Transportation Asset Management Council? Both groups were created to assist communities in understanding the condition of the infrastructure that residents and businesses rely on every day. They work with Michigan’s Infrastructure Council on conditions, investments and more. Join us as we dig into asset management, including what it really means and how it can help your township. We’ll explain what these important groups do and why it matters to townships.
Speakers: Ryan Laruwe, Executive Director, Michigan Infrastructure Council, Michigan Department of Treasury; Jennifer Tubbs, Manager, Watertown Charter Township (Clinton Co.); and Cameron Van Wyngarden, Superintendent, Plainfield Charter Township (Kent Co.)

Know Your Boundaries
Township boundaries can and do change due to annexation, city incorporation and detachment, Act 425 and cooperative development agreements, and other adjustments. Transfers can occur from townships to cities and villages, from cities to townships, and even from one township to another township. Depending on the type of adjustment, they can happen before the State Boundary Commission or the county board of commissioners, or by agreement between the affected local units. Learn all about it in this informative presentation.
Speakers: William Fahey and Chris Patterson, Attorneys, Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC

Providing a Safe Township Workplace
Whether it’s a tornado, freak blizzard, fire, or active shooter, every employer—and that includes townships—has a legal duty to create and maintain a safe workplace. In today’s world, that means taking reasonable steps to protect every township team member in crisis situations. That obligation means every township needs to develop, and update, a disaster plan. Join us as we review the key steps to develop your unique plan and identify where you can get support. You can’t afford not to have an updated disaster plan in place to protect your township’s most valuable asset, its people!
Speaker: Karen Kienbaum, Founder and Principal, and Genevieve Adel, Associate Attorney, The Kienbaum Law Group, PC and Justus® Programs

What Every Township Needs to Know about Investments
You won’t want to miss this discussion on municipal investments, including a basic overview on strategies for rising and falling interest rate environments. We’ll review investment options available to townships, potential changes to Public Act 20 and more!
Speaker: Jeff Anderson, Director of Investment Services, Michigan CLASS, and former Finance Director/Deputy Treasurer for Delta Charter Township (Eaton Co.)

What is the Open Meetings Act and Why Do I Need to Care?
The Open Meetings Act (OMA) is one of the most important laws you need to know about and understand as a township official. Minutes, closed sessions and special meeting requirements are all things governed at least in part by the OMA. Learn why it’s so important and some of the pitfalls of not understanding it.
Examining Firefighter Compensation
Townships have options when it comes to firefighter compensation—as volunteers, paid on-call, by the hour and as a salaried employee. What is the right method for your township? Learn how firefighters are classified in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. We’ll also review other special provisions applicable only in the public sector for calculating firefighter, EMTs and police wages, on-call time and other shift work or tour of duties.
Speaker: Cindy Dodge, MTA Member Information Services LiaisonSpeaker: Mike Selden, MTA Director of Member Information Services