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MTA Legal Defense win: Any charter township may levy up to first 5 mills of charter millage
Oshtemo Charter Township v. Kalamazoo County and Kalamazoo County Road Commission, ___ Mich. App. ___ (For publication, decided Sept. 30, 2021, Docket No. 355634)—In this MTA Legal Defense Fund amicus curiae case, the Court of Appeals upheld MTA Legal Counsel’s position that a charter township is not limited in the charter millage it can levy based on when or how the township became a charter township.
Section 31 of the Headlee Amendment states that “Units of Local Government are hereby prohibited from levying any tax not authorized by law or charter when this section is ratified or from increasing the rate of an existing tax above that rate authorized by law or charter when this section is ratified, without the approval of a majority of the qualified electors of that unit of Local Government voting thereon.” [Const 1963, Art 9, § 31. Emphasis added]
Attorney General Opinion 6285 of 1985 had stated that a township which incorporated as a charter township by board resolution after Section 31 of the Headlee Amendment took effect on Dec. 22, 1978, was limited to levying only the amount of its general law township millage as its charter millage (that may be levied without a vote of the electors) instead of up to the first 5 mills of the total of 10 mills of charter millage.
However, the Court looked to American Axle & Mfg, Inc v Hamtramck, 461 Mich. 352 (2000), which held that “The plain language of Art 9, § 31, excludes from its scope the levying of a tax, or an increased rate of an existing tax, that was authorized by law when that section was ratified.” [Emphasis added].
The question before the court was “whether petitioner remains limited to the tax rate for general law townships because it was a general law township at the time Headlee was adopted or whether, having later become a charter township, the relevant limit on its taxing authority is the limit applicable to charter townships at the time Headlee was adopted. We conclude that the Attorney General Opinion is inconsistent with later-decided caselaw from the Michigan Supreme Court and that petitioner may levy the charter township millage rate.”
The Court held that, in American Axle, “the Supreme Court approved a line of Section 31 cases from this Court standing for the proposition ‘that the Headlee exemption of taxes authorized by law when the section was ratified permits the levying of previously authorized taxes even where they were not being levied at the time Headlee was ratified and even though the circumstances making the tax or rate applicable did not exist before that date.’ Petitioner argues that this case falls squarely within this formulation of the ‘authorized by law’ exemption. We agree.”
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MTA Board of Review and Budget Public Hearing Sample Set offers sample notices, resolutions for virtual meetings, alternate meeting date, poverty exemption and more
New laws and uncertainty about how meetings may be conducted over the next few months is complicating planning for the March board of review and township boards preparing to hold their budget public hearing at the end of an April 1 fiscal year. MTA has prepared a BOR and Budget Public Hearing Sample Set that includes new and updated samples to:
- Notice the Township Budget Public Hearing Meeting as both a virtual and in-person meeting (.pdf) Word version of sample available here.
- Notice the March Board of Review as both virtual and in-person meetings (.pdf) Word version of sample available here.
- Set an Alternate Date for the March Board of Review (.pdf) Word version of sample available here.
- Allow Local Residents to Protest to the Board of Review in Writing (including electronic means) (.pdf) Word version of sample available here.
- Adopt 2021 Poverty Exemption Guidelines and Asset Test (sample guidelines and resolution) (.pdf) Word version of sample guidelines available here and sample resolution here.
- Allow Extension of Poverty Exemptions under PA 253 of 2020 (.pdf) Word version of sample available here.
MTA's Board of Review Training meets new state mandate
Starting with the 2021 board of review term of office, all board of review members must complete State Tax Commission-approved training at least once per term (regardless of the amount of time you have served on the board of review). The “Basic” session of MTA's Board of Review Training--being offered virtually in February--meets this new training mandate. Additional sessions, including "Beyond Basics" and "Advanced" allow you to gain additional knowledge. The “Advanced” class has also been approved by the STC for assessor renewal credit. Download a registration form or register online now. Questions about the mandate or participating in the class? Find answers here.