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
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
District library board millage elections
A district library board, in conducting a library district millage election, may exclude electors of a participating municipality which has resolved to withdraw from the library district before the effective date of the proposed tax millage.
Opinion No. 7028
August 18, 1999
Honorable Don Koivisto
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Honorable Paul Tesanovich
You have asked if a district library board, in conducting a library district millage election, may exclude electors (voters) of a municipality which has resolved to withdraw from the library district before the effective date of the proposed tax millage.
Information supplied with your request indicates that in August 1998, Stanton Township, a participating municipality in the Portage Lake District Library,1 held an election in which its electors voted to withdraw from the district library, effective in November 2000. Prior to the effective date of Stanton Township's withdrawal, the district library board wishes to hold an election for a proposed operating and debt repayment millage. The proposed millage, if approved by the electors, will take effect after the November 2000 effective date of Stanton Township's withdrawal from the district library.
The District Library Establishment Act (Act), 1989 PA 24, MCL 397.171 et seq; MSA 15.1779(1) et seq, provides for the establishment of district libraries and district library boards. The Act requires that elections for a districtwide tax be conducted "under the provisions of the Michigan election law . . . except to the extent that those provisions are inconsistent with the provisions of [the] act." Section 14(1). Sections 15 through 18 and section 23 govern elections for a districtwide tax where none of the participating municipalities are school districts. Section 14(2). "If a majority of the votes cast on the question of a districtwide tax is in favor of the proposal, the tax levy is authorized." Section 15(5).
Section 24(2) of the Act specifies the circumstances under which a district library may continue to levy a tax on property in a withdrawing municipality after the municipality adopts a withdrawal resolution:
A district library tax in effect or authorized to be levied by the district library or by the withdrawing municipality before the adoption of the resolution to withdraw shall be levied in the municipality for its original purpose but only for the period of time originally authorized and only so long as the board continues in existence. In addition, a municipality that withdraws from a district library shall continue to receive library services from the district library so long as a districtwide tax authorized to be levied before the withdrawal of the municipality continues to be levied in the municipality and the district library remains in operation.
By means of this section, the Legislature has provided that, in the event a participating municipality decides to withdraw from the library district, the tax levy shall continue to be collected for the period of time originally authorized for the levy and, further, that the municipality shall continue to receive the resulting library services for that same period of time, notwithstanding its decision to end its participation in the district.
Your question, however, concerns a variation on this process, one not expressly addressed by the Act. Under the scenario which you describe, a library district board proposes to hold an election to approve a new or renewed millage prior to the effective date of a municipality's withdrawal from the district. The proposed millage, however, will not go into effect until after the effective date of the municipality's withdrawal. Under these circumstances, the withdrawing municipality will still be a "participating municipality" at the time of the millage election but will have surrendered that status prior to the effective date of the proposed levy. The issue thus posed is whether the electors in the withdrawing municipality must be permitted to vote on the millage question even though they will not be subject to the resulting levy if it is approved.
A review of the Michigan Election Law, MCL 168.1 et seq; MSA 6.1001 et seq, and of the District Library Establishment Act reveals no provisions governing a millage election held under such circumstances. A review of the Act, however, discloses compelling evidence of the Legislature's intent that taxes authorized by the Act are to be voted upon and approved by the voters who will be subject to the tax. For example, section 13(2) of the Act requires that "[a]ll or part of the money necessary for the establishment and operation of a district library may be supplied by a tax levied by the district library on the taxable property in the district." (Emphasis added.) Section 13(6) provides that "[a] participating municipality shall not levy a tax authorized by subsection (5) unless the tax is approved by a majority of the electors who reside in the participating municipality and vote on the proposal." Where the Legislature's intent is manifest, it must be given effect. Bonifas-Gorman Lumber Co v Unemployment Compensation Comm, 313 Mich 363, 369; 21 NW2d 163 (1946).
The cited provisions, as well as other provisions of the Act, make eminently clear the Legislature's intent that the tax is to be authorized by the affected voters of "participating municipalities," i.e., municipalities that are participating in the library district at the time the tax levy is actually imposed. As of the date the tax will become effective in the district in question, the withdrawing municipality will not be "in the district" and it will no longer be a "participating municipality." Because the electors in the withdrawing municipality will not be subject to the tax, it clearly was not the Legislature's intent that these electors must participate in this election.
This result is consistent with the provisions of section 24(2) of the Act, by which the Legislature has directly tied the collection of taxes in a withdrawing municipality to continued library services for its residents. This result is likewise consistent with Const 1963, art 9, § 31, also known as the Headlee Amendment, which prohibits local units of government from levying a tax not authorized by law or charter at the time the amendment was ratified "without the approval of a majority of the qualified electors of that unit of Local Government voting thereon."
It is my opinion, therefore, that a district library board, in conducting a library district millage election, may exclude electors of a participating municipality which has resolved to withdraw from the library district before the effective date of the proposed tax millage.
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM
STATE OF MICHIGAN
1 The district's participating municipalities consist of the City of Houghton, Portage Township, Chassel Township and Stanton Township.