U.S. Water News Online
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Tax-exempt institutions, even churches, are subject to paying special assessments for stormwater improvements, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled. In a 4-3 decision, the state supreme court overturned two lower court rulings in favor of churches that sued Sarasota County, contending that the stormwater assessments actually were taxes.
The favorable ruling allows the county to proceed with some $54 million in stormwater improvements, said the head of the Sarasota County Storm Water Utility Department. "If the county had lost," said J.P. Marchand, "the whole program could have been in some kind of jeopardy."
A circuit court and an appeals court had ordered the county to refund between $350,000 and $500,000 in assessments to churches. The majority opinion of the state supreme court held that developed properties have to bear the brunt of stormwater improvements because they contribute to the problem more.
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