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Monday, November 01, 2010

Ind. Decisions - More on "Supreme Court Grants Transfer of Brown County Fire District Case"

Updating this ILB entry from Oct. 22, 2010, re the case of Susanne C. Gaudin, et al. v. J.W. Austin, et al, Laura Lane of the Bloomington Herald-Times had this story ($$$) on Oct. 31st:

NASHVILLE — Legal maneuverings involving the Brown County Fire Protection District have resulted in rulings for each side. In the end, the Indiana Supreme Court will decide once and for all which side the law favors.

The lawsuit challenging the county commissioners’ abolition of a unified countywide district to oversee rural fire protection has taken twists and turns reminiscent of a drive down the county’s Scarce O’ Fat Ridge Road.

In 2009, a Brown Circuit Court ruling in favor of the commissioners determined they had the authority to disband the fire district and legally did so.

The ordinance establishing it had been approved two years before by the previous commissioners, including two voted out in part because of public outcry about the fire district. So the remaining commissioner and the two newly elected ones met Jan. 1, 2009 — the first day of their new term — to pass a new ordinance axing the previous one.

Then, the attorney who filed the lawsuit sought review by the Indiana Court of Appeals, claiming the commissioners did not follow proper procedures in disbanding the district. In February of this year, a panel of appeals court judges agreed.

The appeals court written opinion said an established fire district cannot be dissolved merely by passing an ordinance. The ruling said the commissioners must receive a petition with signatures from a majority of property owners in the county to be able to dissolve the district, then must hold a public hearing before voting on the issue.

Kurt Young, the county attorney who advises the commissioners, challenged the appeals court decision, then sought a hearing before the state Supreme Court.

He recently learned the Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on points of law in the matter, which vacates the appeals court ruling, which is now moot.

The hearing before the high court is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 16, in the Supreme Court courtroom at the State House in Indianapolis.

The fire district would have placed the county’s rural volunteer fire departments under the leadership of a county-wide district controlled by an appointed board of directors. Most fire departments in the county opposed the consolidation and thousands of citizens signed petitions against it.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 1, 2010 07:47 AM
Posted to Indiana Transfer Lists