Judge Rules In Favor Of City, County; Taxpayers Appeal

Date posted - September 15, 2016

Sibley, Iowa — A judge has issued a summary judgement for the defendants in the case of a group of Osceola County taxpayers against Osceola County and the City of Harris.
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The group of taxpayers alleged 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.

There were two issues — an Osceola County resolution creating the Urban Renewal Area (the places that needed help, i.e. the Harris wastewater plant, White Avenue) and an Osceola County ordinance establishing the TIF district (the wind turbines) and saying where the funds from their rise in value would go.

Judge David Lester found in favor of the defendants (the city and county), but basically on a technicality. The ruling says that the taxpayer group filed their claim before the actual ordinance was passed. That meant that it did not fit in the 30-day window of when such claims can be made, so the court could not act on it. Judge Lester said that there was no precedent for challenging the anticipated passage of an ordinance, so the claim was filed in an untimely manner.

However, Judge Lester says the taxpayer group did file the papers objecting to the resolution creating Urban Renewal Area 7 in time, but because there was not enough evidence to suggest that the mere creation of the area would mean higher taxes, it wasn’t enough to find in favor of the taxpayers.

The taxpayer group is appealing the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court.

For background information on this story, click here.

Click here for a copy of the judge’s ruling.

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