278 S.W.3d 659 (Mo. 2009), SC 89558, South Metropolitan Fire Protection Dist. v. City of Lee's Summit

Docket Nº:SC 89558.
Citation:278 S.W.3d 659
Party Name:SOUTH METROPOLITAN FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT, Respondent, v. CITY OF LEE'S SUMMIT, Missouri, Appellant.
Case Date:March 17, 2009
Court:Supreme Court of Missouri
 
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Page 659

278 S.W.3d 659 (Mo. 2009)

SOUTH METROPOLITAN FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT, Respondent,

v.

CITY OF LEE'S SUMMIT, Missouri, Appellant.

No. SC 89558.

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.

March 17, 2009

Page 660

Paul A. Campo, Betsy Blake, Williams & Campo, P.C., Robert H. Handley, Michael A. Rump, City of Lee's Summit Law Dept., Lee's Summit, MO, for Appellant.

Cindy Reams Martin, Cindy Reams Martin, P.C., Lee's Summit, MO, for Respondent.

Joy D. McMillen, Timothy W. Jones, Doster Guin James Ullom Benson & Mundorf, LLC, Chesterfield, MO, Amicus Curiae (Missouri Association of Fire Protection Districts).

Howard C. Wright, Jr., Springfield, MO, for Amicus Curiae (Missouri Municipal League).

WILLIAM RAY PRICE, JR., Judge.

The city of Lee's Summit, Missouri acquired property pursuant to a voluntary annexation that was located in the boundaries of the South Metropolitan Fire District. After the annexation, a dispute arose over whether fire protection services and receipt of related revenues for the annexed property would remain with South Metro or be transferred to the city. The city claimed that the annexed property was excluded from the fire protection district pursuant to section 321.320.1 South Metro argued that the annexed property remained part of the fire protection district pursuant to section 72.418.2

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South Metro filed suit for a declaratory judgment and permanent injunctive relief. The trial court found that sections 72.418.2 and 72.418.3 applied and granted relief in favor of South Metro. The city appeals, arguing that section 321.320 applies and that, if section 72.418.2 applies, it is unconstitutional. Because the city challenges the validity of a statute, this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to Mo. Const. art. V, § 3.

Sections 72.418 and section 321.320 are in conflict, each providing a different result for whether the city or the fire protection district provides fire protection services to the annexed property. When section 72.418 is placed in the context of the boundary commission act, it can be read to apply to counties with a boundary commission, and section 321.320 can be read to apply to counties with no boundary commission. This Court applied section 321.320 in this manner in Battlefield Fire Prot. Dist. v. City of Springfield, 941 S.W.2d 491 (Mo. banc 1997). Because the city is not located in a county with a boundary commission, section 321.320 applies in this case. The judgment is reversed.

I. Facts

The city is a constitutional charter city, located in Jackson County and Cass County. The city maintains and operates its own city fire department and emergency ambulance services.

South Metro is a fire protection district formed in accordance with chapter 321 and is a political subdivision of the state of Missouri. South Metro provides fire protection services and emergency ambulance services to the property within its geographic boundaries, which includes some property in Cass County.

In January 2005, the city annexed approximately 320 acres of undeveloped property in Cass County pursuant to a voluntary annexation agreement. Prior to annexation, the property was within the geographic boundaries of South Metro. As the city began developing the annexed property in January 2007, South Metro became aware that the city was using its fire department and emergency ambulance services for the area.

In October 2007, South Metro filed suit for a declaratory judgment and preliminary and injunctive relief. The trial court found that section 72.418 applied and granted declaratory judgment and permanent injunctive relief in favor of South Metro.

II. Statutes

The legislature has enacted three statutes that address fire protection services and revenues for property included in a fire protection district and a city. These statutes are sections 321.320, 321.322,3 and

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72.418. Sections 321.320 and 321.322 are included in chapter 321, titled " Fire Protection District." Section 72.418 is included in chapter 72, titled " Classification and Consolidation of Cities, Towns and Villages," in sections 72.400 to 72.430, titled " Boundary Commission."

a. Section 321.320

Section 321.320 provides:

If any property, located within the boundaries of a fire protection district, is included within a city having a population of forty thousand inhabitants or more, which city is not wholly within the fire protection district, and which city maintains a city fire department, the property is excluded from the fire protection district.

The section was enacted in 1949 and amended in 1961 and 1969. As first enacted, the section provided:

If any property, located within the boundaries of the fire protection district in a county of the first class now or hereafter having a population of four hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants or more is now or hereinafter included with a city not wholly within such district, such property is excluded from the district.

Section 321.320, RSMo 1949.

The 1961 amendment made several changes to the 1949 version. It deleted the requirement that the property be located in a county of 450,000 inhabitants or more and added a requirement that the city have 40,000 inhabitants or more. The amendment also excluded application in first-class counties with a charter form of government and removed " now or hereinafter" from the verb phrase. As amended, the section provided:

If any property, located within the boundaries of the fire protection district in a county of the first class, except those having a charter form of government, is included within a city having a population of forty thousand inhabitants or more, which city is not wholly within the fire protection district, and which city maintains a city fire department, the property is excluded from the fire protection district.

Section 321.320, RSMo Supp.1961.

The 1969 amendment deleted the phrase " in a county of the first class, except those having a charter form of government." There have been no further amendments to this section.

b. Section 321.322

Section 321.322 is the subsequent section to section 321.320 and provides in pertinent part:

1. If any property located within the boundaries of a fire protection district shall be included within a city having a population of at least two thousand five hundred but not more than sixty-five thousand which is not wholly within the fire protection district and which maintains a city fire department, then upon the date of actual inclusion of the property within the city, as determined by the annexation process, the city shall within sixty days assume by contract with the fire protection district all responsibility for payment in a lump sum or in installments an amount mutually agreed upon by the fire protection district and the city for the city to cover all obligations of the fire protection district to the area included within the city, and thereupon the fire protection district shall convey to the city the title, free and clear of all liens or encumbrances of any kind or nature, any such tangible real and personal property of the fire protection district as may be agreed upon, which is located within the part of

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the fire protection district located within the corporate limits of the city with full power in the city to use and dispose of such tangible real and personal property as the city deems best in the public interest, and the fire protection district shall no longer levy and collect any tax upon the property included within the corporate limits of the city; except that, if the city and the fire protection district cannot mutually agree to such an arrangement, then the city shall assume responsibility for fire protection in the annexed area on or before January first of the third calendar year following the actual inclusion of the property within the city, as determined by the annexation process, and furthermore the fire protection district shall not levy and collect any tax upon that property included within the corporate limits of the city after the date of inclusion of that property:

....

2. Any property excluded from a fire protection district by reason of subsection 1 of this section shall be subject to the provisions of section 321.330.

3. The provisions of this section shall not apply in any county of the first class having a charter form of government and having a population of over nine hundred thousand inhabitants.

4. The provisions of this section shall not apply where the annexing city or town operates a city fire department and was on January 1, 2005, a city of the fourth classification with more than eight thousand nine hundred but fewer than nine thousand inhabitants and entirely surrounded by a single fire district. In such cases, the provision of fire and emergency medical services following annexation shall be governed by subsections 2 and 3 of section 72.418, RSMo.

This section was enacted in 1985 and was...

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