The Fifth District upheld the trial court determination that Marion County could impose a special assessment on property specially benefited by recently completed roadway improvements within MSBUs, through the reassessment process.
While not stated in the opinion, it appears that the County established the MSBUs or the assessment methodologies after making the road improvements. Based on the opinion, it does not appear that the plaintiffs claimed there was no special benefit or that the benefits were unreasonably apportioned to the property. Instead, the argument was that the County could not assess because it did not have “jurisdiction” to assess when the improvements were made. The District Court rejected this argument based on earlier decisions allowing reassessment where benefitted property was not properly or fully assessed.
This decision could have significant impact and create new avenues for broad based funding for future improvements by confirming that local governments can recover from existing development the costs for improvements that benefit that development. In other words, local governments can use special assessments to recover “sunk” costs in existing improvements, allowing them to use that revenue to maintain, replace or expand other improvements or to repay general obligation bonds and free up other funds.