Truth-in-Taxation and Budget Hearing Reminder

Michigan law requires a school board to adopt its budget before the beginning of the fiscal year (July 1). School officials should be aware of budget adoption legislation that took effect in 1995 (PA 40 of 1995), which significantly altered a school district’s obliga­tions for truth-in-taxation and budget adoption pro­cedures. That legislation permits a school district to dispense with the truth-in-taxation process if it takes certain steps as part of the budget adoption process.

First, a taxing unit such as a school district may levy the full authorized operating millage without following the truth-in-taxation process (i.e., newspa­per notice, hearing, and resolutions proposing and adopting additional millage rates) if the taxing unit complies with Section 16 of the Uniform Budgeting and Accounting Act.

Second, PA 40 of 1995 amended Section 16 of the Uniform Budgeting and Accounting Act to require a taxing unit’s “general appropriations act” (i.e., the adopted budget) to set forth the total number of mills of ad valorem property taxes to be levied and the pur­poses for which that millage will be levied. A descrip­tion of the tax base on which the millage will be lev­ied should be included in the budget as well [e.g., (1) non-principal residence, non-qualified agricultural property, and non-qualified forest property; (2) all property; or (3) principal residence, qualified agricul­tural property, and qualified forest property].

Third, the notice for the budget hearing, which must be published in a newspaper of general circula­tion within the school district at least six calendar days before the hearing, must include the following statement, printed in 11-point boldfaced type:

The property tax millage rate proposed to be levied to support the proposed budget will be a subject of this hearing.

In summary, a school district may levy its full millage rate(s) without going through the truth-in-taxation hearing process by satisfying the following requirements:

1. At least six calendar days before the hearing, publish a notice of budget hearing containing the following information:

a. the time, date, and place of the hearing;

b. the location where the budget is availa­ble for public inspection; and

c. the boldfaced language referencing the proposed millage rate that is set forth above.

2. After the hearing concludes, adopt a budget that includes a statement of the total number of mills of ad valorem property taxes to be levied and the purposes for which the millage will be levied.

It is Thrun Law Firm’s opinion that a school dis­trict seeking to levy millage approved by voters after the adoption of the budget may avoid the truth-in-taxation process by: (1) publishing the appropriate budget hearing notice, holding a second public hear­ing, and amending the budget to include the addi­tional millage; or (2) providing a millage rate in the original hearing notice and budget that includes the proposed millage to be voted on, if known.

An intermediate school district voting on a re­gional enhancement millage should consult with legal counsel about the incorporation of the enhancement millage in the truth-in-taxation process.

A form for the budget hearing notice that com­plies with the above-described requirements is at­tached to this edition of School Law Notes. Please note that no specific form of resolution for adoption of the budget is required. School districts may con­tinue to use budget adoption resolutions that have been used in past years.

Because public school academies, schools of ex­cellence, urban high school academies, and strict dis­cipline academies (“charter schools”) are without au­thority to levy a school operating millage, the annual budget hearing notice for charter schools need not include the 11-point boldface type notice.

Attachment Size
PDF icon budget_hearing_notice_form.pdf 88.99 KB