|Michigan Supreme Court
|Headlee Amendment, tax, Bolt, refuse inspection inspection fee
Michael P. McGee | Jeffrey S. Aronoff | Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. | 150 West Jefferson Suite 2500 | Detroit, MI 48226 | 313-963-6420
Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
Amicus counsel argues that the three-part Bolt test, used to determine whether a charge is a valid user fee or a tax in violation of the Headlee Amendment, is a balancing test in which the failure to satisfy one prong is not dispositive. Furthermore, the City of Detroit’s solid waste inspection fee satisfies all three prongs of the Bolt test, and is therefore a valid user fee, an not a tax in violation of the Headlee Amendment. Additionally, Amicus counsel argues that the Court of Appeals was correct in finding that the inspection fee served a regulatory purpose. The inspection fee is necessary in regulating solid waste, which falls within the regulatory power of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and is not intended to raise revenue. Moreover, the regulatory program does not create excess revenue because that revenue is part of a broad solid waste regulatory program that is split between the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Public Works. Also, the regulatory purpose prong of the bolt test only requires that the primary purpose of a fee is regulatory; it does not strictly prohibit a user fee from generating revenue. In addition, the reduction in the City’s overall budget deficit resulting from the fee does not demonstrate a revenue-raising purpose. Amicus counsel further argues that the Court of Appeals was correct in holding that the inspection fee was proportionate to the cost of providing the related service, just as is required by the second prong of the Bolt test. Lastly, Amicus counsel argues that the inspection fee was voluntary, as evidenced by the property owners have a choice to opt into City inspection or collection, just as the Court of Appeals held.
Michigan Supreme Court:
|MSC requested LDF amicus brief?
Plaintiff, Laurence G. Wolf, doing business as Laurence Wolf Properties (Wolf), sought a declaration that a new solid waste inspection fee charged by the city of Detroit to the owners of certain commercial and industrial properties constituted a disguised tax. Wolf asserted that if the new solid waste inspection fee was a disguised tax, then it violated § 312 of