The Fifth District upheld the trial court determination that
Marion County could impose a special assessment on property specially
benefited by recently completed roadway improvements within MSBUs, through the
While not stated in the opinion, it appears that the County
established the MSBUs or the assessment methodologies after making the road
improvements. Based on the opinion, it
does not appear that the plaintiffs claimed there was no special benefit or
that the benefits were unreasonably apportioned to the property. Instead, the argument was that the County
could not assess because it did not have “jurisdiction” to assess when the
improvements were made. The District
Court rejected this argument based on earlier decisions allowing reassessment
where benefitted property was not properly or fully assessed.
This decision could have significant impact and create new
avenues for broad based funding for future improvements by confirming that
local governments can recover from existing development the costs for
improvements that benefit that development.
In other words, local governments can use special assessments to recover
“sunk” costs in existing improvements, allowing them to use that revenue to
maintain, replace or expand other improvements or to repay general obligation
bonds and free up other funds.