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JAS Apartments, Inc. v. City of Minneapolis

September 23, 2003

JAS APARTMENTS, INC., ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
THE CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS, A MINNESOTA HOME-RULE CITY, RESPONDENT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. AP0017717

Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The "sewer charges" provision in Minn. Stat. § 444.075, subd. 3 (2002), authorizes storm-sewer charges to be set based on the amount of water consumed by the property owner.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wright, Judge

Affirmed

OPINION

Appellants challenge the district court's summary judgment in favor of the City of Minneapolis and denial of class certification. Because Minn. Stat. § 444.075, subd. 3 (2002), permits the City of Minneapolis to charge property owners sewer fees based on water consumption, we affirm.

FACTS

Respondent City of Minneapolis (the city) maintains two distinct sewer systems. The sanitary sewer collects sewage from sewer mains, street conduits, and pumping systems, and channels it to sewage treatment plants. The storm-water drainage system collects, transports, and manages water run-off from private and public properties.

Section 444.075 grants municipalities the authority to fund the operation of their sewer systems. Minn. Stat. § 444.075 (2002). In Minneapolis, the cost of maintaining and improving the sanitary-sewer system and storm-sewer system is funded exclusively through the assessment of a sewer charge paid by all private-property owners who receive municipal water service in Minneapolis. The sewer charge for storm-sewer services is based on the amount of water consumed by the property owner.

Appellants JAS Apartments, Inc. and other owners of multi-family properties in Minneapolis commenced this action for monetary damages and injunctive relief on August 10, 2000. Appellants challenge the legality of the city's sewer charge, arguing that the city does not impose storm-sewer charges in a "just and equitable" manner as required by Minn. Stat. § 444.075 because the storm-sewer charges are based on water consumption. The city moved for summary judgment on two occasions. The district court denied the city's initial motion.

The district court later granted summary judgment for the city, concluding that the sewer-charge provision of Minn. Stat. § 444.075, subd. 3, refers to both sanitary- and storm-sewer systems and authorizes the assessment of storm-sewer charges based on the amount of water consumed. This appeal followed, and the city filed a notice of review as to the district court's denial of defenses raised in its first summary judgment motion.

ISSUE

Does the sewer-charge provision in Minn. Stat. ยง 444.075, subd. 3 (2002), authorize storm-sewer charges based ...


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