On March 20th, MuniReg was honored to submit the following testimony in support of SB 356

Senate Bill No 356
Michael Halpern, President MuniReg LLC
Testimony in Support

Chair Wiener and members of the Committee:

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to offer testimony in support of SB 356, pertaining to the Code Enforcement Incentive Program: Community Code Enforcement Pilot Program.

Prior to founding MuniReg LLC in 2019, I spent 20 years at the nation’s largest mortgage field services company that conducts inspections, maintenance, and repair actions on behalf of its’ banking/mortgage servicing clients.

For the final 8 years of my tenure, I served as their Director of Community Initiatives, tasked with educating and providing real time assistance to local governments, and specifically code enforcement officials (CEO) in addressing “zombie foreclosures”.

In addition to presentations to national organizations like the US Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and American Association of Code Enforcement etc. I have had the honor to address numerous statewide and regional code enforcement associations including the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers (CACEO).

I continue these similar activities in my current role and will be presenting to Michigan Association of Code Enforcement Officers (MACEO) at the end of March 2023.

I share this brief history as I believe it has afforded me a unique and broad perspective as an “outsider”, yet an “insider” into the role, responsibilities, and most critically, the challenges of code enforcement.

Across the country, municipal code enforcement is underfunded, and is rarely given prominence at the local government level, nor at the Statehouse, except for New York State and now California.

With this, CEOs are often burdened with both a local governing body and a citizen base that does not adequately understand the purpose and value of code enforcement.

I am a firm advocate for equal rights for the owner of abandoned properties and the rights of the owners of neighboring properties that are adversely affected by the abandoned properties. CEOs are tasked with what is very much “walking that fine line” – every day.

The physical risk they are exposed to daily can be clearly demonstrated by the recent occurrence in Columbus, OH, “Columbus police arrested a man for allegedly dragging a City of Columbus cod enforcement officer while holding an ax”.

Independent of the value of funding for actual CEOs, there is a continuous need for funding education, training, and safety equipment.

Therefore, I am heartened to see this proposed legislation validating the value of code enforcement and associated training and certification.

Furthermore, I am heartened to see the inclusion of community-based organizations. I am a strong believer in transparency and open dialogue. Engaging these parties proactively will ensure greater understanding, greater collaboration, and hopefully greater positive outcomes.

CACEO has always stood at the forefront of advocacy for their profession. I am honored to do my small part by standing with them in support of SB 356.

Every dollar invested in code enforcement is an additional dollar towards improving the neighborhoods and the quality of life of your constituents.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Michael S Halpern
MuniReg LLC