Tag Archive for U.S. District Judge John Feikens

Decision Time: DW&SD Rain Tax Comes To A Head In Court

Detroit Water & Sewerage Division Has Colluded With Trial Lawyers To Avoid A Constitutional Test Of Their Outrageous 'Stormwater Fee'

The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department’s Non Residential Drainage Rate became a political hot potato in 2013 when the City finally started applying this breathtaking, disguised tax to all non residential properties within the City.  Mayor Duggan is scraping the bottom of the barrel for every revenue dollar he can find.

Prior to 2013, the City of Detroit only extracted this rate from 12,000 non residential property owners, although 41,237 non residential property owners should have been paying it. They also extracted this rate from the State of Michigan and Wayne County for roads in Detroit, after a lengthy appeals process which ended in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Detroit shielded politically preferred and connected property owners from this tax for 35 years, notably the politically powerful black churches.  But that ended in 2013 when the City of Detroit “discovered….that there are some errors with respect to our billing of stormwater charges”.

This rate, which is often referred to as a stormwater fee or the rain tax, is not inconsequential. It is now $ 660 – $ 750 per acre, per month. Run of the mill churches with on site parking were rudely surprised with $ 3,500 monthly charges in 2015, on top of their already expensive water bills. They thought as religious entities they were tax exempt. Tee-hee.  No one in Michigan is truly tax exempt!  Michigan Public Act 178 of 1939 (MCL 123.161 et seq.) converts unpaid DW&SD stormwater fees into a property lien, same as unpaid property taxes, so these fees quickly result in property foreclosures.

Ever wonder why Detroit has such a problem with commercial property blight? Now church blight is in the offing.

Non residential property owners in Detroit have just received a legal notice in the mail announcing a proposed settlement of a Wayne County Circuit Court class action case filed by Michigan Warehousing Group LLC and Midwest Valve and Fitting Company against the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department over the DW&SD’s outrageous stormwater fee. This case is identified in the Wayne County Circuit Court as 15-010165-CZ. The parties reached a settlement agreement which is carefully constructed to cripple legal challenges to the constitutionality of the stormwater fee in higher courts and handsomely pay off the trial bar.

The settlement notice fails to inform non residential property owners that another, far more comprehensive class action law suit is progressing in the Michigan Court of Appeals. Detroit Alliance Against The Rain Tax v. City Of Detroit in the Michigan Court of Appeals, Case Number 339176, just got consolidated with a similar suit on 24 October and appears ready for litigation – also as a class action.

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Corruption or Incompetence?

Oakland Macomb Sewer Interceptor Costs Now At $ 335 Million And Climbing, Cue The Lawsuits

The City of Sterling Heights announced on their FakeBook page Monday that they have filed a lawsuit against Macomb County over their $ 22.2 million portion of the cost for reconstructing the collapsed Oakland Macomb sewer interceptor (OMI), as apportioned by the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (MIDDD). Sterling Heights believes that the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) “did nothing to abate the conditions that likely caused the December [24th] 2016 collapse”. Sterling Heights believes their contract with the MCWDD covers the operation and maintenance of the OMI interceptor.  This may be a little tricky to prove, since the OMI is actually run by the Oakland Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (OMIDDD), an entity independent of and superior to the MCWDD.

Sterling Heights’ contention is that proper maintenance on the OMI by the MCWDD would have prevented its collapse. Maybe. The OMIDDD has already spent $ 170 million on rehabilitation of the OMI since they bought it in 2009. Supposedly the entire 21 mile length was examined and rehabilitated. That rehabilitation effort ended just months before its December 2016 collapse. That collapse suggests that the OMIDDD rehabilitation didn’t do much good. Anyone care to speculate why? Your choices are corruption or incompetence, or both.

This is now a Michigan wide story because our state government will be providing at least $ 5 million of the $ 75 million repair costs for the December OMI collapse. The much debated $ 3 million legislative grant and another $ 2 million from MDEQ.  That $ 75 million is just the current estimate, for the currently acknowledged deterioration of the OMI. Given the Granholm Administration’s role in suckering Oakland and Macomb counties into the OMI purchase, the State of Michigan probably has a lot more responsibility.

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Rip Off

Weaver/McCormick Flint-GLWA Deal Transforms Water From Obscene Tax To Outright Theft

Flint Mayor Karen I Love Rizzo Weaver and Great Lakes Water Authority CEO Sue McCormick have reached a 30 year deal for Flint to purchase water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The City of Flint had signed up to purchase its water from the nascent Karegnondi Water Authority in March 2013 and the State of Michigan concurred in April. Everyone in Flint City government, save one councilman, has agreed to source Flint’s water from the KWA. Even Mayor Weaver. Until this week.

The Weaver/McCormick deal has GLWA paying Flint at least $ 7 million a year to cover Flint’s share of the bonds issued to finance the KWA. A total of $ 210 million over the 30 year contact period.

Where will that $ 210 million come from?  GLWA is not the Federal Reserve, they cannot just create money out of thin air. GLWA will extract the money from the victims ratepayers in the other communities it ‘serves’.

Mayor Weaver and CEO McCormick will transform GLWA water rates into yet another exaction imposed upon most of Southeastern Michigan to subsidize Flint. Without any input from those victims ratepayers. A blatant fee as tax evasion of Headlee. Governor Snyder, of course, approves wholeheartedly.

This is government theft, Headlee evasion, and a rich fount of future corruption.

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Yet Another Government Triumph in Michigan

Rewarding Incompetence and Corruption With Your Tax Dollars

Snyder Duggan Orr Image aMayor Mike Duggan startled Michigan yesterday by disclosing that Detroit found the actuarial accrued liability (AAL) in their pension plans to be $ 491 million higher than that calculated in their U.S. Bankruptcy Court Plan of Adjustment. The very expensive Detroit bankruptcy consultants used an outdated version of the IRS Static Mortality Table when calculating Detroit’s future pension payments. Detroit’s unfunded actuarial accrued liability (UAAL) was not the $ 731 million stated in the Plan of Adjustment, rather it was $ 1.222 billion. Big money in a city whose total governmental revenues were $ 1.415 billion in FY 2014. Mayor Duggan blames erstwhile Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr for this little oversight, but others were also responsible.

GLWA Detroit Seal ImageNo word yet from the Great Lakes Water Authority whether all those Detroit Water & Sewerage Department employees they absorbed from the City of Detroit have the same AAL calculation error in their pension funding schedules. You can bet they did, and the suburban geniuses politicians who spent a year doing due diligence also missed it. The DW&SD pension funding schedules were determined by the same very expensive bunglers who wrote the Detroit Plan of Adjustment.

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