Wes Nakagiri

Livingston County Commissioner, District 3

Prevent New TaxationUnlike Lansing or Washington DC, county government does not pass bills. Instead, county government passes resolutions.

In June 2019 I submitted a resolution to dissolve the Livingston County Building Authority (LCBA). I submitted this resolution because the LCBA enables, under certain circumstance, taxes to be raised without a specific vote of the Board of Commissioners (BOC). By dissolving the LCBA, citizens do not have to worry about taxes being raised without a vote of their elected representatives on the BOC.

I have always believed that only elected representatives should have the power to raise taxes. That way citizens can voice their disapproval at the ballot box. The power to raise taxes should never be given to anyone who is not directly accountable to the voting public. As I did in this case, I will always oppose any mechanism which permits citizens’ taxes to be raised without a vote of their elected representatives.

My resolution to dissolve the LCBA was not warmly embraced by County Administration. In fact, the administration advised me a few days prior to the vote that I did not have enough support from other commissioners on the BOC for my resolution to pass. In spite of this negative forecast, I pursued passage of my resolution because of my steadfast belief in the principle that only elected leaders, who are accountable to the citizens, should have the power to raise taxes.

I am pleased to report that, contrary to County Administration’s prediction, my fellow board members supported my resolution and unanimously voted to dissolve the LCBA, thus closing off this route to raising taxes. I thank my colleagues for their support on this matter.

Footnote: Livingston County’s legal counsel initially sided with County Administration and opined verbally that establishing the LCBA did not open the door to a new route to raise taxes. Having previously read the statute I questioned their interpretation and decided to pursue this matter further. Notwithstanding the legal and administrative obstacles in front of me, I would not be deterred from acting in the best interests of Livingston County taxpayers.

Confident that I had done my due diligence and that my interpretation was correct, I then requested legal counsel to provide a written opinion on this subject. After completing a thorough investigation, legal counsel reversed course and agreed with me. Quoting from their written opinion, legal counsel concluded that the LCBA enabled taxes to be raised “even though the Commissioners did not specifically vote to raise taxes.”