The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s decision in a northern Indiana annexation case, citing a recent ruling on the subject from the Indiana Supreme Court.
In the case, In the Matter of the Annexation Proposed by Ordinance No. 2004-11-38, et al. v. Chris Fetcko, et al., 45A03-0611-CV-549, the city of Crown Point appealed the trial court’s order granting the motion for involuntary dismissal filed by Fetcko and other remonstrators to a city ordinance annexing certain land.
Crown Point adopted a fiscal plan for annexing real estate known as Liberty Park, Abandoned Railroad, and American Legion. In April 2005, the city annexed Liberty Park. When the trial court held a hearing on the petition filed by the remonstrators against the annexation, the trial court granted the remonstrators motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to trial rule 41(B).
The trial court ruled that the city did not meet the requirements under Indiana Code 36-4-3-13(d)(2), which states a fiscal plan must show how planned services to the area annexed will be financed and “must explain how specific and detailed expenses will be funded and must indicate the taxes, grants, and other funding to be used.”
The city’s plan showed there would be a five-year deficit in providing services to the annexed territory, but any shortfalls would be made up from the city’s general fund.
The city appealed, arguing that the way the trial court interpreted Indiana Code section 36-4-3-13(d)(2) would require “an annexing municipality to include information in its fiscal plan beyond the scope required by the legislature in its statute.”
The Court of Appeals, using the recent Supreme Court decision in City of Carmel v. Annexation Terr. Landowners, 868 N.E.2d 793, 797 (Ind. 2007), reversed the trial court ruling.
Just like the fiscal plan in the City of Carmel case, Crown Point’s plan demonstrated that revenue from the annexation territory will be a significant source of revenue for funding services to the annexed territory and the initial deficit from annexation will be covered by the city’s general fund.
Following the guidance from the Supreme Court in City of Carmel, the Court of Appeals ruled Crown Point’s plan is sufficiently specific regarding funding sources and reversed and remanded for further proceedings.