June 4, 2012
New SCOTUS ruling on infrastructure assessments
Interesting decision out of the US Supreme Court today on infrastructure assessments. In a 6-3 ruling in Armour v. Indianapolis, the Court refused an equal protection challenge from property owners to a municipal sewer assessment. Justice Breyer, writing for the majority, summarized the case and the Court's decision as follows:
For many years, an Indiana statute, the “Barrett Law,” authorized Indiana’s cities to impose upon benefited lot owners the cost of sewer improvement projects. The Law also permitted those lot owners to pay either immediately in the form of a lump sum or over time in installments. In 2005, the city of Indianapolis (City) adopted a new assessment and payment method, the “STEP” plan, and it forgave any Barrett Law installments that lot owners had not yet paid.
A group of lot owners who had already paid their entire Barrett Law assessment in a lump sum believe that the City should have provided them with equivalent refunds. And we must decide whether the City’s refusal to do so unconstitutionally discriminates against them in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, Amdt. 14, §1. We hold that the City had a rational basis for distinguishing between those lot owners who had already paid their share of project costs and those who had not. And we conclude that there is no equal protection violation.
The slip opinion is here.
Stephen R. Miller
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