Hearing On Harris TIF Case Postponed

Date posted - March 11, 2016

Sibley, Iowa — A telephone hearing in the case of a group of Osceola County taxpayers versus Osceola County and the City of Harris — has been postponed to April 15th.
Wind Turbines SVA

Court records indicate the hearing, which was to have been this coming Friday, March 18th, is to decide on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgement. Summary judgement is basically a way that one side in a case can win without having to go to trial — if the judge agrees that the facts of the case are not disputable.

The group of taxpayers allege that — an agreement to use Tax Increment Financing from a group of wind turbines in Osceola County for a waste water project and lagoon in Harris and for improvements to White Avenue — was illegal.

In their motion for summary judgement, they allege that Osceola County and the City of Harris did not enter into a joint agreement before Osceola County established an urban renewal area within the city of Harris’s area of operation. They say that means Osceola County acted without the necessary jurisdiction, or illegally.

The documents say the Harris City Council passed a backdated agreement memorializing a verbal agreement agreed upon in August 2015. The plaintiffs say that’s not allowed.

The plaintiffs allege that Osceola County’s established Urban Renewal Area 7 is not an “area” and that the inclusion of wind energy conversion property violates the spirit of the Tax Increment Financing law.

They say that the wind energy conversion property was not on the tax rolls at its full assessed value at the time Osceola County established Urban Renewal Area 7. The plaintiffs say that means that the County captured money in the tax increment that has nothing to do with the urban development taking place within the urban renewal area.

They also allege that the wind energy conversion property will receive no economic benefit from projects done in the city of Harris. The plaintiffs say both of these realities violate the entire purpose of TIF.

For background information on this story, click here.

The court is scheduled to decide on the merrits of the motion for summary judgement on April 15th. At this point a trial is scheduled on the case on September 20th, 2016.

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