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158852 - Detroit Alliance Against the Rain Tax v City of Detroit

Detroit Alliance Against the Rain Tax, Detroit Iron & Metal Company, American Iron & Metal Company, McNichols Scrap Iron & Metal Company, Monier Khalil Living Trust, and Bagley Properties, LLC,


Frederick Baker





(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)





City of Detroit, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and Detroit Board of Water Commissioners,







The plaintiffs are property owners in Detroit who are being charged for their impervious acreage, i.e., hard surfaces that limit the ability of storm water to soak into the ground.  The plaintiffs filed an original action in the Court of Appeals to challenge the drainage charge on the basis that it constitutes a tax for which voter approval has not been obtained as required by the Headlee Amendment, Const 1963, art 9, § 31.  The Court of Appeals, in an unpublished opinion, upheld the drainage charge as a “fee” rather than a “tax,” thus obviating the application of the Headlee Amendment’s voter approval requirement.  The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the application to address whether the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that Bolt v City of Lansing, 459 Mich 152, 164 (1998), is distinguishable from this case on the basis that Detroit’s sewer system is a combined system rather than a separate storm and sanitary sewer system.