Governor Rick Snyder has signed a pair of bills that allows the state to more effectively assist communities struggling to rebound in the wake of natural disasters.
One bill requires the state to maintain Michigan's Disaster Contingency Fund at a minimum level of $1 million and a maximum of $4.5 million, rather than the current minimum of $30,000 and maximum of $750,000.
The other measure increases the amount of assistance grants from the current $30,000 to $100,000, or 10 percent of a local unit's operating budget, whichever is less. The bill also renames the fund as the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund.
Previously, when a disaster struck, the Legislature had to vote for supplemental appropriations from the General Fund to support an affected community rather than maintaining a sufficient balance in the Disaster Contingency Fund.
The current fund balance only stands at $508,550. In addition to being able to use these funds during an emergency, the Michigan State Police and Department of Natural Resources have the authority to expend up to $800,000 as situations arise.
The State Budget Office notes that since 2005, the state has spent more than $12 million in responding to tornadoes, wind storms and floods, as well as more extensive disasters like the Duck Lake fire in 2012 and the Sleeper Lake fire in 2007.