The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Tuesday:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2023
For more information, please contact:
Beth Cate, Corporation Counsel, Legal Department
[email protected] or 812-349-3426
Andrew Krebbs, Communications Director, Office of the Mayor
[email protected] or 812-349-3406
City Asks Court to Strike Down State Legislation As Second Unconstitutional Interference with Annexation
Bloomington, Ind.– On Monday, February 27, the City of Bloomington filed a motion in City of Bloomington v. Smith asking Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon to strike down legislation the Indiana General Assembly passed in 2019 that voided most of Bloomington’s existing sewer extension contracts. In its motion, the City argues that the legislation violates state and federal constitutional provisions protecting contracts from retroactive impairment by state law.
The City also argues that the 2019 legislation should not be applied to Bloomington’s annexation, since the City would have completed the annexation process in 2017 – long before passage of the 2019 legislation – but for earlier unconstitutional interference by the General Assembly. In its 2017 budget bill, the General Assembly unlawfully suspended the annexation. However, it was not until 2020 that the state supreme court declared that the suspension unconstitutionally targeted Bloomington’s annexation.
In 2019, while Bloomington was in the middle of winning its case, the legislature took advantage of the time it bought and interceded again, voiding most of Bloomington’s sewer extension contracts. The legislature was only able to use the 2019 law to nullify sewer extension contracts because it unconstitutionally delayed Bloomington’s annexation in 2017.
The City’s motion and supporting memorandum are available online at: https://bton.in/tKyl6
In March 2022, the City of Bloomington filed a lawsuit in Monroe County challenging the validity of the 2019 law that retroactively voided eighty percent of Bloomington’s sewer extension contracts. Learn more at: https://bton.in/FDQUW
Based on numbers published by Monroe County Auditor Cathy Smith, as a result of the 2019 legislation, Bloomington went from automatically annexing five of seven designated areas, to falling short in five of the seven areas. County residents have appealed the annexation of the remaining two areas – Area 1A and 1B – in a separate court proceeding, County Residents Against Annexation v. City of Bloomington.
On Friday, February 24, Special Judge Nathan Nikirk denied the residents’ request for a second 90-day remonstrance period. Judge Nikirk set an attorney-only status conference for Friday, March 3, 2023. Learn more at: https://bton.in/c0Bjt