Amicus Brief

Alexander Bolt v City of Lansing (rehearing)

Case Year: 1999
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: fees, user fees, regulatory fees, Headlee Amendment, tax, sewer systems, water systems, stormwater, storm water
Amicus Counsel:

Cynthia B. Faulhaber | Clifford T. Flood | Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, P.L.C. | 150 West Jefferson Suite 2500 | Detroit, Michigan 48226

CoAmicus Parties:

1. Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
2. Michigan Association of Counties (MAC)
3. Michigan State Bar Public Corporation Law Section (PCLS)


The practical problem with the analytical framework the Court
adopted in the present case is that it needlessly introduces an
element of uncertainty into the law that conceivably threatens
municipal public utility systems across the state that were designed, installed, constructed and operated for years and years with billions of dollars of user fees. Similarly, this Court’s opinion introduces an element of uncertainty to future systems and, significantly, to the public financing markets so important for financing large public improvements. The uncertainty occurs because the Court, whether intentionally or not, has rewritten the statutory scheme and its own case law that had previously governed this area and had provided a workable framework that public officials and bond counsel could apply with some prediction in determining whether a charge was a tax or a
user fee. Increasingly, municipalities have prohibited the use of septic systems for reasons of public health. Therefore, municipalities do in fact exercise their police powers when they establish rules regarding the use of water and the disposal of garbage and sewage. This has never, however, turned the fees charged to pay for an alternative system into regulatory fees.


February 24, 199: rehearing denied.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No
Case Number: 1997-09-2
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