Municipalities Have Authority to Create Transportation Utilities

On June 16, 2020 the League issued a legal opinion concluding that a municipality may rely on its broad statutory and/or constitutional home rule powers to create a transportation utility and charge property owners transportation utility fees. Alternatively, a municipality may charge property owners a street maintenance user fee under Wis. Stat. § 66.0627. Any fee must be reasonably related to the cost of the services provided. A transportation utility fee is most defensible against challenge if the basis for the fee is closely related to property occupants’ use of the local street network. Transportation utility fees with such a basis are accurately characterized as fees and not taxes. Such fees should be segregated and used only for street maintenance and other transportation services. To avoid needing to reduce the community’s property tax levy under § 66.0602(2m)(b) of the levy limit law, municipalities should avoid using transportation utility fee revenue to pay for snow plowing or street sweeping. 

“Sex” Discrimination Under Title VII Includes Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

In Bostock v. Clayton County, the United States Supreme Court held, in a 6-3 decision, that an employee may sue an employer under Title VII for discrimination if the employer discriminates against them based on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII prohibits, among other things, discrimination “because of sex.” The Court’s opinion, written by Justice Gorsuch, concludes that “because of sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity. If an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a factor, in whole or in part, in an employer’s decision to terminate an employee, that termination is improperly based on the employee’s sex and the employee may bring an action under Title VII. 

The U.S Supreme Court’s decision resolves a split between the federal circuit courts of appeal. In 2017, the Seventh Circuit was the first federal circuit court of appeals to rule that employees may bring sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII. Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll. of Indiana, 853 F.3d 339, 341 (7th Cir. 2017)

Click here for a full analysis of the Bostock decision by Amy Howe on SCOTUSblog.