clear to township officials and property owners. The confusion stems from several factors. A
special assessment and a general property tax are levied, due and collected at the same time.
Collection and foreclosure procedures are similar as well. A special assessment may appear
in a special assessment column on the general property tax bill. Ad valorem property taxes are
taxes on real property (land or anything fixed to it), based on a percentage (or millage) of
actual or assessed valuation (Wren, 1995). By definition a special assessment is a charge for
local improvements that enhance the value of real property, whereas, property taxes are
involuntary contributions to the community treasury used to defray the general expenses of
government (MTA, 1996).
Although the primary source of revenue for the Harrison Township Fire Department
has traditionally been from special assessments or property taxes, revenues have also been
generated through the utilization of Emergency Medical Service Transport Fees, Cost
Recovery for Hazardous Materials Response, and Investment Interest Income.
Research Question 2. What effect has the Headlee Amendment had on funding for the
Harrison Township Fire Department? The tax limitation amendment to the Michigan
Constitution, commonly known as the Headlee Amendment, was adopted by voters as
Proposal E on November 7, 1978. Section 31 of the Headlee Amendment requires voter
approval of any new or increased local tax, including property taxes. Furthermore, the section
requires that increases in local property taxes, caused by higher values, be limited to that
accounted for by inflation (to a maximum of five percent) plus any new construction. Any
increases in the assessed valuation of property above the inflation rate, except that caused by
new construction, must be returned to the taxpayers in the form of a lower millage rate. This
reduction in the maximum authorized millage rate, which allows only the increase in tax