|Case Forum:||Michigan Supreme Court|
|Keywords:||millage, roads, elections|
John H. Bauckham (P10544) | Bauckman, Sparks, Lohrstorfer, Thall, & Seeber, P.C. | 458 West South Street | Kalamazoo, MI 49007-4621
MML joined the MTA brief
The Van Buren County Treasurer’s disbursement to the Van Buren County Road Commission of funds derived from the county road millage ballots covering a 28 year levy and collection period throughout the county for the specific purpose of improvement of county primary roads and county local roads, was a valid disbursement and was properly utilized
At issue in this case is whether defendants violated MCL 224.20b by presenting and securing voter approval of a road millage proposal and, if so, what remedy is available. We affirm the Court of Appeals decision that the millage proposal in this case violated the allocation provisions of MCL 224.20b, but
|MSC requested LDF amicus brief?||Yes|
The statute at issue in this case is MCL 224.20b,1 which permits county boards of commissioners to propose tax levies, also known as millage proposals, for roads and bridges, but requires the proceeds of such a levy to be distributed to cities and villages for their roads, as well as to the county, according to a specific formula unless the governing boards of the cities and villages agree with the county to a different distribution. The statute also expressly states that proposals must conform to this distribution requirement and unless they do, they are not properly before the voters. Despite this fund distribution requirement, the voters of Van Buren County in 2003 were presented with and approved a road millage that had no provision for distributing funds to cities and villages. It simply gave one mill for five years to the Van Buren County Road Commission to repair and reconstruct county roads, with no mention of city or village roads. No city or village objected even though the statutory requirements in MCL 224.20b had not been followed. Moreover, going back to 1978, six other millages with the same flaw—no distribution provision—had been approved in six separate elections, and the funds derived had also been used exclusively by the Van Buren County Road Commission for the purpose of maintaining and repairing primary county roads and local county roads. Because plaintiff city of South Haven had no county roads within its municipal limits, it did not receive any of the funds from the six millages for road building and repair.