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Friday, February 24, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Still more on: SCOTUS grants cert in: Homeowners' Lose Sewer Suit Against City

There are TWO BIG oral arguments next Wednesday. Not only the Charlie White civil case, being argued before our Indiana Supreme Court (see this ILB entry for summary and documents), but Armour v. Indianapolis, being argued before the SCOTUS. (See this ILB entry for links to all the documents in that appeal.)

Today the Indianapolis Star has posted a lengthy story by Maureen Groppe, Gannett Washington Bureau, on the Armour appeal, headed "Before Supreme Court, Indianapolis to defend charging different amounts for sewers." It begins:

WASHINGTON -- Whether the good fortune of some Indianapolis homeowners who saved themselves thousands of dollars simply by putting off paying a bill is unconstitutionally unfair will be debated by the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday.

The city of Indianapolis will defend the fact that some residents paid $9,278 for a sewer hookup while others in the same neighborhood paid only $309.

That happened because the city forgave outstanding balances owed by some homeowners in the Northern Estates subdivision for a 2003 sewer project when the city later switched to a new funding system.

Indianapolis argues that officials chose a rational way to transition to the new system and the city's action was no different from countless other government amnesty or forgiveness programs.

Organizations representing state and local government officials across the country have asked the Supreme Court to side with Indianapolis.

But homeowners who paid the full price for their sewer hookup argue the city violated their constitutional right to be treated equally and they deserve a refund.

Taxpayer-right groups back the homeowners, as did a Marion County court and the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Indiana Supreme Court sided with Indianapolis last year. * * *

In a separate suit by homeowners filed in federal court, a federal judge in Indianapolis ruled in 2010 that the city violated the equal-protection clause. The opposing conclusions reached by the federal judge and by the Indiana Supreme Court may be a reason the U.S. Supreme Court decided to get involved.

ILB: This is the first I've heard of a federal suit; would like to post.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 24, 2012 03:14 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions