Standing – Equality of Taxation

Gulf Shores City Board of Education and Walker v. Eric Mackey, et al., [Ms. 1210353, Dec. 22, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2022). In a plurality decision, the Court (Bolin, J.; Wise, Sellers, and Mendheim, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., and Mitchell, J., concur in part and concur in the result; Shaw, Bryan, and Stewart, JJ., concur in the result) affirms the Montgomery Circuit Court’s Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of the Gulf Shores City Board of Education’s (“the Gulf Shores Board”) and Kelly Walker’s (“Walker”) complaint seeking certain declaratory and mandamus relief relating to allocation of sales taxes levied by the Baldwin County Commission pursuant to local act, codified at § 45-2-244.072, Ala. Code 1975.

The decision holds that a portion of sales taxes levied by the Baldwin County Commission under the local act and earmarked for the Baldwin County Board of Education was not required or authorized by statute to be allocated to the Gulf Shores City Board of Education, Ms. **26-27. The decision also concludes the Board lacked standing to raise its State constitutional challenge because the Board failed to demonstrate a likelihood that its alleged injury would be redressed by a declaration that the local act violated Ala. Const. §105. Ms. *29.

While the decision concludes Walker’s individual taxpayer’s “equality of taxation” challenge to the local act presented a justiciable controversy, it concludes the local act did not violate the constitutional principle of equality of taxation because

Like the tax levied in Garrett [v. Colbert County Board of Education, 255 Ala. 86, 50 So. 2d 275 (1950)], the local tax levied by the Baldwin County Commission pursuant to the local-tax act is a countywide tax that is apportioned on a countywide basis not only to the Baldwin County Board, but also to the Baldwin County Juvenile Court, the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office, CACC, and the Baldwin County general fund. Walker, and the other citizens residing in the Gulf Shores school district, undoubtedly benefit from the allocation of the local-tax proceeds to those other entities because those entities provide services on a countywide basis. Because the local-tax act levies a tax that is allocated on a countywide basis to support services that are provided countywide, the principle set forth in Garrett that prohibits the levy of special taxes on the citizens of a definite locality to be expended in some other locality has not been violated, and Walker’s constitutional claim therefore fails.

Ms. **35-36.

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