Monday, February 22, 2016

Point Made

For Immediate Release                                                                                   Contact: Ben Kaufmann
Feb. 22, 2016                                                                                                  517-373-5932

Shirkey: Loophole Voids Property Tax Protections,
Must be Fixed
Current Judicial Levy Law Makes Tax Caps Meaningless

LANSING — Are property owners in Michigan truly protected by the Constitution, state law, and local charters on how high their property taxes can be raised? Do they as voters have any say in the matter? A 2015 report issued by the non-partisan Citizen Research Council makes it clear that the answer is no. State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, says it's time to reform the law that allows judges to effectively create new property taxes as the result of a lawsuit.

"There are supposed to be caps in place on how high property taxes can go, so that homeowners aren't treated like ATM machines," said Shirkey. "Just because they own property somewhere doesn't mean they should be viewed as an unlimited source of revenue by the government."

Shirkey said it does little good to have limitations on how many mills can be assessed if a judicial levy can simply bypass them.  Judicial levies result when a person wins a lawsuit against the government and then petitions the court to raise property taxes as a way to make sure they are paid in a timely manner.  The way the law is currently structured such a court ruling can effectively bypass constitutional protections such as Headlee, other state laws, and even locally voted in charter limitations.

"Proposal A was supposed to provide real property tax protections, and we must ensure these caps carry force and aren't just illusion," said Shirkey. "Most people would rightfully ask, how can a judge effectively create a new tax that can exceed all these caps?  And why don't they as local taxpayers have an opportunity to vote on such a proposal, just as they would for other new taxes or rate increases?"

Shirkey has introduced legislation, SB 630, which would instead treat court ordered damages as a garnishment out of existing tax dollars, as opposed to just allowing for the creation of new and additional taxes. The Senator said that such an approach recognizes that property owners are not an unlimited source of income for government to solely shift their obligations to. Shirkey said the current law is also based on an assumption that if a homeowner gets their property taxes raised that they automatically have some sort of easy way to go out and get extra money.

"No homeowner has the ability to go out and force their boss to give them a raise, yet current law allows government to be compelled to force additional money out of the very people who they are supposed to be subject to," said Shirkey. "There are real repercussions to raising property taxes above a cap; we don't want to return to the days before Proposal A where elderly people owned their homes outright but had to sell them because high taxes made it impossible for them to afford staying there."

The legislation is currently scheduled for a hearing in Lansing on February 23rd.  


Friday, February 19, 2016

The Process Begins

After almost three weeks trying to get my computer and emails back in order, I am happy to announce that I am back in business.  The great thing is that I am just in time to announce that the senate bills to keep local governments from placing judgements on our tax bills and increasing our taxes without our vote, as required under the constitution is about to come under discussion.


The Senate
Committee on Local Government


     710 FARNUM
P.O. BOX 30036
PHONE: (517) 373-3543
FAX: (517) 373-0927


COMMITTEE:            Local Government

DATE:                           Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TIME:                           12:30 p.m.

PLACE:                        Room 100, Farnum Building
                                       125 W. Allegan Street
                                       Lansing, MI   48933

PHONE:                       Jackie Mosher (373-5312)
                                       Committee Clerk


SB 610     Sen. O'Brien           Housing; condominium; provision related to construction process of certain condominium projects; modify.

For Testimony Only:
SB 630     Sen. Shirkey           Civil procedure; remedies; judgments against municipalities; limit ability to collect by levying a tax or issuing bonds.

SB 631     Sen. Shirkey           Property tax; payment and collection; payment of collected taxes by local tax collecting unit; provide for payment of judgment against local unit of government.

And any other business properly before the committee.


In the spirit of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with a disability should feel free to contact the Office of the Secretary of the Senate by phone [(517) 373-2400] if requesting special services to effectively participate in the meeting.

If you can attend that would be great. But, if you can’t please consider calling the committee clerk at Committee Clerk | 517-373-5323  . I am also happy to announce that we have AFP Michigan support.