Amicus Brief

Johnnie Coleman, Darryl Buchanan, Flint City Council and Scott Kincaid, City Council President v State of MI

Case Year: 2002
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, financial management
Amicus Counsel:

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


The Department of Treasury clearly has the responsibility
and authority to interpret the language of the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, but it lacks the authority to do so when the statute itself is not ambiguous and when the interpretation is not in accord with the clear intent of the Legislature to mandate several opportunities for the local government to be “heard”. The Court should uphold the lower
court’s conclusion lhat the Governor’s determination that a financial emergency existed in Flint was based on an unwarranted exercise of discretion because the Governor failed
to hear evidence regarding the City’s condition at the time of the hearing (i.e., whether the conditions described in the 2001 audited financial statements the Treasurer relied upon were continuing and whether the plan developed by the City between April 1 and June 30, 2002 was unsatisfactory. The extraordinary remedies provided in the Act militate the application of the strictest adherence by the Governor to the very clear procedural requirement outlined in the Act.


In sum, we find that, at their core, the city’s arguments are simply an attempt to assert that it was denied due process, a claim that it lacks standing to bring. Kent Co Aeronautics Bd, supra at 581. There is likewise no language anywhere in the act that would support a finding that the city has a right to present evidence at the hearing provided by MCL 141.1215(2) that was not available to the financial review team. As we have held, the Governor’s decision was amply supported by the undisputed record. Accordingly, the lower court’s opinion and order are reversed, and the Governor’s decision is affirmed.
Reversed. No costs to plaintiffs, a public question being involved.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

This case arises in the context of the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, MCL 141.1201 et seq., and presents questions of first impression. Senate Resolution 184, 2002 Journal of the Senate 576 (No. 23, March 13, 2002), sponsored by Senator Robert L. Emerson, the state senator for the district that includes the city of Flint, sought a preliminary review by the state treasurer of the city of Flint’s financial condition pursuant to MCL 141.1212(1) of the act. At the conclusion of his review, the state treasurer reported to the Governor that a serious financial problem existed in the city of Flint. As required by MCL 141.1213(1)(b) when such a report is received, the Governor appointed a financial review team to conduct an assessment of the city’s fiscal situation.

Case Number: 2002-04
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