Historian James Coffield once described the British income tax system as “scaffolding for plunder.” Michigan has its own version — hordes of government tax-borrow-and-spend authorities like Downtown Development Authorities, Corridor Improvement Authorities and at least 10 others that get little public or media attention, have minimal accountability, and once created are almost impossible to dismantle.
A new bill introduced by Rep. Joseph Haveman, R-Holland, would create yet another version called “neighborhood enhancement districts,” with the power to impose higher property taxes (special assessments) to pay for a wide range of projects favored by local planners. The scheme is designed to “empower” locals to raise yet more money to enhance their area, but what it really enhances is local government taxes, spending and power. No vote of the people would be required.
The bill would empower local planners to borrow and spend for faddish projects such as pavilions, amphitheaters, snow-melt systems and surveillance equipment, the razing of “nonconforming structures,” and yet more government recreational programs and facilities. Governments could also increase property taxes without a vote of the people to promote the area, and to provide broadband or other telecommunications services.
There is much wrong with this bill.
In addition to Rep. Haveman, this proposal is cosponsored by Reps. Lyons, Price, MacGregor, Crawford, Heise, Yonker, Wayne Schmidt, Roy Schmidt, Haugh, Shaughnessy, Kowall, Foster, Dillon and Howze.
Permission to reprint this blog post in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author (or authors) and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are properly cited. Permission to reprint any comments below is granted only for those comments written by Mackinac Center policy staff.
Get insightful commentary and the most reliable research on Michigan issues sent straight to your inbox.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
Please consider contributing to our work to advance a freer and more prosperous state.