Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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In 2013, the Kanis and Denny Roads Suburban Water Improvement District No. 349 of Pulaski County (the District) reassessed Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (SPP) commercial facility, an improvement on its property that is connected to the City of Little Rock’s waterworks system, which resulted in an annual levy of $60,653. The District’s board of equalization confirmed the reassessment. SPP then filed a complaint in circuit court, arguing that the reassessment was wrong as a matter of law and of fact. The circuit court largely granted the District’s motion for summary judgment, and, following a bench trial on the issue of the sufficiency of the 2013 notice of reassessment, the circuit court granted final judgment in favor of the District. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that SPP’s facility cannot be assessed, and accordingly, the 2013 reassessment, and the subsequent reassessments, are invalid. View "Sw. Power Pool Inc. v. Kanis & Denny Roads Suburban Water Improvement Dist. No. 34" on Justia Law

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In 2013, the Kanis and Denny Roads Suburban Water Improvement District No. 349 of Pulaski County (the District) reassessed Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (SPP) commercial facility, an improvement on its property that is connected to the City of Little Rock’s waterworks system, which resulted in an annual levy of $60,653. The District’s board of equalization confirmed the reassessment. SPP then filed a complaint in circuit court, arguing that the reassessment was wrong as a matter of law and of fact. The circuit court largely granted the District’s motion for summary judgment, and, following a bench trial on the issue of the sufficiency of the 2013 notice of reassessment, the circuit court granted final judgment in favor of the District. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that SPP’s facility cannot be assessed, and accordingly, the 2013 reassessment, and the subsequent reassessments, are invalid. View "Sw. Power Pool Inc. v. Kanis & Denny Roads Suburban Water Improvement Dist. No. 34" on Justia Law

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Kenyghatta Davis brought a class action complaint against the City of Blytheville and its Water Department, arguing that the Water Department’s charging of late fees on overdue accounts was an ultra vires act because there was no statutory authority allowing the City to impose late fees and that she was entitled to a declaratory judgment finding that the charging of the late fees was usurious and an unreasonable and unconscionable penalty. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the City, concluding (1) the City had expressed, implied, and incidental authority to establish and assess fees for late payments; and (2) Davis failed to offer any legal support for the claim that allowing the Water Department to collect these charges violated the law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City can impose a late fee when there is a violation of the ordinance relating to the payment of a bill; and (2) these late fees are not usurious or an unreasonable or unconscionable penalty. View "Davis v. City of Blytheville" on Justia Law

Posted in: Utilities Law

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In 2009, Central Arkansas Water, which owns and operates Lake Maumelle as a public water supply, authorized the collection of a “watershed fee” imposed on wholesale customers, including Appellants. That same year, Pulaski County and Central Arkansas Water (collectively, Appellees) entered into a watershed protection agreement. Appellants filed suit on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated taxpayers, arguing that the watershed fee constituted an illegal exaction and that the the watershed protection agreement necessitated Central Arkansas Water to expend public funds illegally. The circuit court entered summary judgment for Appellees, concluding that the agreement was a proper contract for administrative services. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly ruled that the watershed protection agreement was a valid agreement under Arkansas law. View "Sullins v. Cent. Ark. Water" on Justia Law

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Jon Hopkins submitted multiple requests to Brinkley Water & Sewer Department (“BW&S”) for the home address and payment history of Kathryn Harris, a municipal-utility ratepayer and resident of the City of Brinkley. BW&S provided a redacted history of Harris’s account history but did not disclose her home address. The circuit court found that BW&S was not required to provide Hopkins with Harris’s home address, a “public record” as defined by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that the ratepayer’s home address was exempt from disclosure, as (1) the Federal Trade Commission’s Red Flags Rule does not preempt the FOIA’s disclosure requirements; (2) BW&S failed to offer proof that any customer’s home address qualifies as a “personal matter” and thus was “constitutionally protectable” under McCambridge v. City of Little Rock; and (3) Harris’s home address was available for inspection by Hopkins, irrespective of his purpose in seeking access. View "Hopkins v. City of Brinkley" on Justia Law