Curb Appeal: Municipal Special Assessments after Hubbard V. City of Pierre

By Davis, Eric T. | South Dakota Law Review, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Curb Appeal: Municipal Special Assessments after Hubbard V. City of Pierre


Davis, Eric T., South Dakota Law Review


South Dakota municipalities rely on their statutory authority to fund improvements like streets, curb and gutter, sewer and water infrastructure, and sidewalks though special assessments. These assessments charge the cost of part or all of some improvements to the property owners within the municipality who are benefitted by them. When the South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed a recent circuit court ruling that the City of Pierre's special assessment for replacement curb and gutter was an unconstitutional taking of private property, it upended municipalities' longstanding special assessment procedures. Hubbard left municipalities unsure how to levy special assessments within the parameters of the law. As a result, the South Dakota Municipal League successfully proposed, and the Legislature passed, a complete rewrite of special assessment laws during the 2012 legislative session. This new legislation alone, however, will not remedy municipalities 'frustrations. The solution instead lies in a close examination of the facts and procedure of Hubbard and of the constitutional principles governing special assessments. Hubbard leaves several important questions unaddressed, but it does not hold that municipalities are statutorily or constitutionally incapable of levying sound special assessments for improvements, including replacement curb and gutter.

I. INTRODUCTION

Almost seventy percent (1) of South Dakota residents live within one of the state's 310 incorporated municipalities. (2) These municipalities serve their residents by administering the local affairs of the community (3) and by providing improvements and services. (4) "People want good schools, parks, bands, libraries, golf courses, swimming pools, water and sewer systems, electrical service, police protection, carefully tended streets and all of the other services that the city renders to its people." (5) But all of these services and improvements cost money,, and "they all cost much more money today than they did a few years ago." (6) Instead of requiring municipalities to fund all improvements through general taxation or user fees, the South Dakota Legislature authorizes municipalities to recover the costs of some improvements from nearby property owners through a process known as special assessment. (7) As political subdivisions of the state, municipalities possess only those powers, including the power to levy and collect special assessments, conferred on them by the legislature. (8) But, unlike many other areas of municipal law, constitutional principles and not merely statutory restrictions govern special assessments. (9) These constitutional principles and municipalities' statutory authority to levy special assessments are not consistently in sync; therefore, municipalities' practice of turning to South Dakota law for authority (as they must) (10) does not alone guarantee that their special assessments will pass constitutional muster. (11)

Hubbard v. City of Pierre (12) is South Dakota's most recent precedent in a sparse history of special assessment cases, in which the South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed a circuit court ruling that a special assessment by the City of Pierre was unconstitutional. (13) This note supports the results of the case as presented both at trial and on appeal but argues that minor deviations in procedure by the City of Pierre could have saved at least part of its special assessment. (14) Because a primer on municipal government and special assessments is essential to fully understanding the facts and procedure in Hubbard, this note will first briefly survey the structure of municipal government and finance. (15) Next, this note will explain the nature of special assessments, their statutory authority, constitutional principles, and historical setting. (16) Finally, this note will examine Hubbard and House Bill 1156, recently enacted in response to Hubbard, and analyze what they mean (and do not mean) for the future of municipal special assessments in South Dakota. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Curb Appeal: Municipal Special Assessments after Hubbard V. City of Pierre
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.