The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



STATE OF MICHIGAN

FRANK J. KELLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL



METROPOLITAN COUNCIL:

Authority of metropolitan council to add members after incorporation


A metropolitan council formed under the Metropolitan Council Act, 1989 PA 292, MCL 124.651 et seq; MSA 5.4086(51) et seq, may subsequently add local governmental units as members of the council without regard to their geographic location.


Opinion No. 6947

July 24, 1997


Honorable John T. Llewellyn
State Representative
The Capitol
Lansing, MI 48913

Honorable Harold J. Voorhees
State Representative
The Capitol
Lansing, MI 48913


You have each asked whether a metropolitan council, formed under the Metropolitan Council Act, 1989 PA 292, MCL 124.651 et seq; MSA 5.4086 (51) et seq (the "Act"), may subsequently add local governmental units as members of the council without regard to their geographic location.

A metropolitan council may be formed by "[a] combination of 2 or more local governmental units in a metropolitan area" that adopt and file articles of incorporation. Section 5(1). (Emphasis added.) A "metropolitan area," for purposes of the Act, means "a metropolitan statistical area, as defined as of the effective date of this act, by the United States department of commerce . . . with a population of less than 1,000,000 people." Section 3(f). The Act defines "[l]ocal governmental unit" as "a county, township, city, or village." Section 3(e). Thus, it appears that only local governmental units within a "metropolitan area" as defined in the Act may participate in the initial formation of a metropolitan council.

However, the Act also authorizes additional local governmental units to subsequently join an existing metropolitan council subject to only two specific requirements. First, the governing body of the local governmental unit must adopt a resolution seeking to join an existing metropolitan council. Section 11(1). This resolution is subject to a referendum vote of the electors residing in the local governmental unit upon the filing of a petition for referendum signed by not less than 5% of the unit's registered electors. Section 13(1). Second, the metropolitan council must approve the admission of the applicant unit by amending its articles of incorporation "to reflect the addition of the local governmental unit." Sections 9(1) and 11(1)(c).

In contrast to section 5 of the Act, which expressly mandates that local governmental units participating in the initial formation of a metropolitan council must be located within the appropriate "metropolitan area," section 11 imposes no such restriction upon local governmental units which later seek to become a part of an existing council.

It is a well-established rule of statutory construction that the expression of one thing implies the exclusion of other similar things not expressed. Taylor v Michigan Public Utilities Comm, 217 Mich 400, 402-403; 186 NW 485 (1922); Sebewaing Industries Inc v Village of Sebewaing, 337 Mich 530, 548; 60 NW2d 444 (1953). See also, OAG, 1995-1996, No 6908, p 185 (July 18, 1996). Although the Legislature imposed a geographic location requirement at the time of the initial formation of a metropolitan council, it did not impose a similar requirement upon local governmental units seeking to join an existing council after its incorporation and there is no basis in the Act for reading such a limitation into the provisions of section 11 by implication.

This interpretation is consistent with the Act's purpose of providing a framework for intergovernmental planning and cooperation in those metropolitan areas of the state having a population of less than 1,000,000 as of the Act's effective date, January 3, 1990. A legislative analysis of SB 352 as enrolled, which became 1989 PA 292, demonstrates that the Act grew out of a desire for more cooperation among local governmental units in the greater Grand Rapids area in addressing matters of health and safety relating to sewage overflow problems:

In the wake of sewer overflow problems that have plagued the greater Grand Rapids area, attempts have been made to coordinate services and resources of different local governments to correct this particular problem. The solution to correcting one municipal problem like this, however, often involves coordinating many other planning strategies involving land and water use, and requires sufficient cooperation from all local governments that may be affected by the problem. Some people believe the sewer problem in Grand Rapids is just one example of the increasing need for long-term urban planning by both metropolitan areas and their outlying communities. Other issues of concern include sewage treatment, waste management, transportation, communication, and economic development, as well as the services required by metropolitan-area citizens relative to these and other issues.

Senate Legislative Analysis, SB 352, December 20, 1989 (emphasis added).

This legislative purpose is furthered by permitting participation in such councils by all local governmental units that may be affected by the problem that led to the formation of the council. In addition, this interpretation tends to further the constitutional objectives promoting public health (Const 1963, art 4, 51), protecting natural resources (Const 1963, art 4, 52), and enhancing intergovernmental cooperation (Const 1963, art 3, 5 and art 7, 27 and 28).

It is my opinion, therefore, that a metropolitan council formed under the Metropolitan Council Act, 1989 PA 292, MCL 124.651 et seq; MSA 5.4086(51) et seq, may subsequently add local governmental units as members of the council without regard to their geographic location. Accordingly, a local governmental unit desiring to join an existing metropolitan council may do so upon acceptance by the council's members, even if the new unit is located outside the metropolitan area for which the council was initially incorporated.


FRANK J. KELLEY
Attorney General