Tag Archive for Water

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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Speaking Of Headlee

Asked often enough about government: "Is this even legal? "

pig-collieOne might question the way in which money can be transferred to ‘cover’ other expenses.

We know that pensions are untouchable, but in times of financial distress, some governmental entities are finding out that health care is NOT off the table.  However, others are developing more abusive ways to maintain the ‘status-quo.’  From Bloomfield TWP:

Bloomfield Township taxpayers have been receiving higher and higher bills for water and sewer each year.  Yet in a controversial 5-2 vote in late 2015, Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees transferred  $2.76 million of the fees collected from the citizens water/sewer bills and deposited those millions into a Retired Employees Health Care Trust.

Can you say “turning a fee into a tax?”

Is there any wonder why some might say that creativity in government can be a bad thing?

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RightMi.com 2015 Year In Review

RightMi.com top stories for 2015

Year in reviewWe’ve reached the end of 2015.

Running the gamut from man eating roads to bald face lies, Michigan politics is a ‘special’ place. RightMi.com highlights certain aspects of our system by bringing certain aspects not typically examined by the mainstream to the forefront.   With writing from folks in all parts of the state, we have been able to add perspective not found elsewhere.  Please enjoy, be active, and keep coming back!

STOP-167Coming out of 2014, that session’s legislative knuckleheads carved out a wonderful political battle extending right up to a special vote May 5, which was soundly defeated 80 to 20.  Add to this the cost of the special election that could be as high as $10,000,000, and the resources necessary on both sides to fight it.

In RightMi.com’s opening salvo for 2015, KG One says

“But, I’ve also heard that very same sales pitch before (going back at least several decades, in fact), and have been very disappointed by the outcome each and every time.”

And he was hardly wrong in hedging his optimism as disappointment has once again begat the theme with the political class we have learned to trust so implicitly. <sarc=off>

The ‘safe roads’ nonsense was replete with payoffs to just about every single constituency, and the majority GOP legislature made sure that those ‘po folk’ would get their due if the tax hikes would pass.

The PowWow happened, and we promoted, then reported on it.  The Mackinac Center made an unexpected decision to withdraw from the opportunity to reach 400 or so Michigan activists.  Apparently, Dave Agema, a white haired old veteran ‘racist’ (seen on the right with one of his ‘mortal enemies,’ Pastor Phil Smith) was too overwhelming and politically incorrect that he might rub off in some way.  We gave them a “bad doggie” award and moved on. (I still love you guys..  just don’t do that again, OK?)

A shame they didn’t show up.  One guy who did however, was Lt. General William G Boykin.

Now that guy was the real deal. He offered an inspirational speech (click the link above), and was later used as an example of concern about the lack of will by a couple of ‘tea soldiers’ to fight in Michigan’s legislature.  Though with a couple of highlights, the powwow takeaway in the end, was less than stellar from the perspectives of attendees and some organizers.

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We’ll show you!

You’d better not mess with Detroit! Or, you’ll get what’s coming to you!

The latest shakedown of Taxpayers in Southeastern Michigan took an interesting turn this morning.

Not because of its inaccessible meeting location at Waterworks Park in Detroit.

But, because of something that wasn’t expected during the meeting.

{Oh, you’re gonna love this…}

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Southeastern Michigan Water Fight

Last Act of the Detroit Bankruptcy Stumbles Behind a Wall of Secrecy

Water is Money Image 2The final Detroit bankruptcy plan established a 14 June deadline to reach an agreement transferring operating control of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department’s (DW&SD) assets outside of Detroit to the newly created Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). The State of Michigan, Detroit, Wayne County, Oakland County and Macomb County all signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) creating the GLWA late last year, subject to a 200-day due diligence period. Under the MoU, the City of Detroit would receive a $ 50 million annual lease payment from the GLWA while retaining full control of DW&SD assets and operations within the city. Erstwhile DW&SD customers outside Detroit were promised a 4% cap on annual water and sewerage increases for a 10 year period, which have been running above 10% per annum, in residential bills, in most Southeastern Michigan communities.

In point of fact, what has actually been occurring are secret negotiations over future tax increases across Southeastern Michigan. Water rates have become a surrogate form of incremental taxation. These negotiations will set tax fee increment rates for decades into the future. For taxpayers ratepayers who haven’t even been born yet. How are these negotiations going?

No one who knows is talking. Why?

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