Amicus Brief

Hillsdale County Senior Services Center v County of Hillsdale

Case Year: 2013
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: separation of powers, writ of mandamus, tax, Michigan Constitution, voter approval, Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT)
Amicus Counsel:

Michael P. McGee | Steven D. Mann | Emma T. Chen |
Miller, Canfield, Paddock and 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 Association of School Boards (MASB)
4. Public Corporation Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan (PCLS)


Appellants, a senior services center, request that the judiciary mandate the County to levy a tax at the full amount authorized by voters. First, counsel argues that the judiciary does not have the authority to compel the County to levy a tax because levying taxes is a legislative function, not a judicial one, and thus would violate the separation of powers established in the Michigan Constitution. The State legislature gave the County discretion to decide its annual budget and to levy taxes after a maximum is established by voter approval. Though the judiciary may compel a ministerial act of the legislature, it may not compel a discretionary act. Second, counsel argues that counties have discretion in policy making, such as determining the annual budget, and the amount of tax to be levied. The voter approval requirement only establishes a cap on the amount the County may levy. The current local government process requires only taxing the amount predicted to provide services, as opposed to taxing the maximum possible, which would waste voter’s time and money. Also, the duty to provide funding for senior services is self-imposed, not mandated by the federal or state government; therefore, the County maintains discretion on how to provide funds.


The Tax Tribunal possessed exclusive and original jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ claim for mandamus because the claim, which sought to enforce the terms of a property-tax ballot
proposition, was a proceeding for direct review of a final decision of an agency relating to rates under Michigan’s property tax laws.
Court of Appeals decision affirmed.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No
Case Number: 2012-08
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