May v. City of Laramie, 2223

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBLUME, Justice.
Citation58 Wyo. 240,131 P.2d 300
PartiesMAY v. CITY OF LARAMIE ET AL
Decision Date24 November 1942
Docket Number2223

131 P.2d 300

58 Wyo. 240

MAY
v.
CITY OF LARAMIE ET AL

No. 2223

Supreme Court of Wyoming

November 24, 1942


[131 P.2d 301] [Copyrighted Material Omitted] [131 P.2d 302] [Copyrighted Material Omitted] [131 P.2d 303]

APPEAL from the District Court, Albany County; SAM M. THOMPSON, Judge.

Action by William May, in behalf of himself and all other citizens and taxpayers of the City of Laramie, similarly situated, and as a Councilman of the City of Laramie, against City of Laramie, L. E. Walter, President of the Council, and Acting Mayor of the City of Laramie, John Corbett, Councilman of the City of Laramie, Mac P. Caveny, Councilman of the City of Laramie, for a declaratory judgment to determine the status of the City of Laramie. From an adverse judgment, plaintiff appeals.

Reversed.

For the appellant there was a brief and oral argument by G. R. McConnell of Laramie.

The facts have been agreed upon in writing between the respective parties and their counsel. The City of Laramie was created by a special charter granted by the Territorial Legislature of 1884, now appearing as Chapter 22, Sections 1801-1840, R. S. 1931. It has functioned under this charter in part and under a subsequent statute relating to cities of the second class, Sec. 22-1101-1112, R. S. 1931. Under its charter, the City of Laramie has certain corporate powers exercised by a mayor and councilmen. It is divided into three wards. Enumerated powers relating to elections, terms of officers, taxation and other matters are to be exercised by the enactment of ordinances. The constitution under which Wyoming was admitted as a state provides that the legislature shall enact laws for the classification of municipal corporations, not exceeding four, the powers of each to be defined by law, and that cities and towns existing under special charters or general laws of the territory may abandon such charter and reorganize. Article XIII, Section 1, State Constitution. Pursuant to said authority, the legislature enacted a law providing that cities having more than 4,000 inhabitants shall be known as cities of the first class. Chapter 22, Section 22-301, R. S. There is also a provision for the incorporation of towns. Section 22-1401, R. S. It is provided by law that cities having not less than 6,000, nor more than 9,000 inhabitants, shall be cities of the second class. Sections 22-1101-1102, R. S. But there is no provision or law under which a city of the second class, whose population has increased beyond 9,000 inhabitants, may abandon its second class functions and revert to its municipal functions under its charter or change its status under general laws and enter some other class. The legislature from time to time has passed laws authorizing cities and towns to adopt commission form of government, commission-manager form of government, and manager form of government. Text writers on municipal laws have held generally that the validity of municipal classifications is not to be governed by population alone; that repeals by implication are to be avoided; that special municipal charters are not repealed by general statutes. 1 McQuillin (2d) 618; 2 McQuillin (2d) 954; Tacoma Land Company v. Board of County Commissioners, 25 P. 905. The constitution authorizes special charter cities to surrender their charter and organize under a general law. Article X, Section 1, Constitution. It is also a general rule of law that cities and towns are limited in their functions to the special powers prescribed for them by law. Caton v. Frank, 44 P.2d 521. This court has apparently held that aside from special charter cities, the legislature has created but two other classes pursuant to Article XIII, Section 1 of the Constitution. McGarvey v. Swan, 17 Wyo. 120; State v. Sheldon, 29 Wyo. 233. The City of Laramie has enacted a body of ordinances relating to the election of officers, salaries and other municipal functions. Assuming that the City of Laramie has increased its population beyond 9,000 inhabitants, what are the present legal rights of its governing body, known as its mayor and city council, and under what ordinances do the mayor and city council obtain their authority? These questions are serious and vital to the welfare of the inhabitants of the City of Laramie and its officials. This action was brought for a declaratory judgment, which it was hoped might reconcile the confusion and uncertainty created by the various enactments above referred to. In 1913, the mayor and council of Laramie published an ordinance book entitled, "The City of Laramie, Revised Ordinances of 1913," Section 582 of which repeals all other ordinances. The corporate authorities also published another volume entitled, "City of Laramie, Revised Ordinances of 1926." Section 712 of said revised ordinances declared and adopted the ordinances contained in said volume to be the ordinances of said city, but there has never been an ordinance passed since 1926 covering the subject of elections or appointment of officials and employees. The Constitution forbids the amendment of special city charters in Article III, Section 27. State v. Sheldon, 29 Wyo. 233. The City of Laramie has not seen fit to abandon its special charter. The City of Laramie is the only city in Wyoming affected by the law creating cities of the second class, but as that law did not provide a general scheme of government, we contend that it is unconstitutional. Cincinnati v. Trustees, 64 N.E. 420; Schultz v. City of Phoenix (Ariz.) 156 P. 75; Cole v. City of Seaside, 156 P. 569; Barker v. Kansas City, 88 P.2d 1071. Under the conditions that now exist, may the City of Laramie adopt such provisions as it may from the Wyoming Statutes relating to cities of the first class without abandoning its special charter? The final report by the Supervisor of Census for the State of Wyoming, released on August 24, 1940, showed the population of Laramie to be 10,627 inhabitants. Under what provision of Wyoming laws should the City of Laramie be governed at the present time? And what procedure should said City follow to place itself under a lawful system of government? Counties of the state are classified by law according to assessed valuation of property therein. No formal procedure is prescribed for changing the classification of counties where changes occur in the assessed valuation of property therein. Guthrie v. Board, 7 Wyo. 95; Board v. Burns, 2 Wyo. 291. In the absence of a statute otherwise providing when a census shall go into effect, it becomes official as of the date of the publication return. 14 C. J. (2d) 103. As the population of Laramie now exceeds the population limited to cities of the second class, we contend that it must revert in all its functions to the provisions of its special charter. We have no present statute prescribing when a census taken by the state becomes official. Indeed, there seems to be doubt as to when a federal census becomes final. Board v. Mathews, 296 P. 482; Herndon v. Board, 295 P. 223; 43 C. J. § 58, pp. 104, 158, 159, 172. It is our contention that a special charter city such as Laramie under the present circumstances should continue to operate under its special charter. Whipps v. Town of Greybull, 109 P.2d 805; Lakota Oil & Gas Co. v. City of Casper, 116 P.2d 861. Laramie may abandon its special charter and reorganize under general laws, Article XIII, Section 1, Constitution, but it has not done so. A pretended classification of a city of the second class based on population alone is not a class contemplated by the Constitution. That seems to be the doctrine in the McGarvey case, supra. People v. Earl, 94 P. 294; State v. Hammer, 42 N. J. L. 440; 19 R. C. L. 768. The point of usage and custom which seems to have influenced the findings of the trial court does not seem to be supported by the authorities. 1 McQuillin Municipal Corporations (2d), § 385, p. 963; Shambaugh v. City Bank of Elm Creek, 226 N.W. 460; State v. Stafford, 34 P.2d 372; State v. Clements, 95 P. 845; Haub v. Tuttle, 251 P. 925; Vernon Irrigation Co. v. City of Los Angeles, 39 P. 762; 43 C. J. 100, § 53. Therefore the assumption of powers by the City of Laramie, other than those contained in its charter, over a long period of years does not amend the charter or enlarge the powers granted to the City. This action is brought with the sole intention of ascertaining by what statutory authority the officials of the City of Laramie are entitled to act--whether its officials are de jure officers or de facto officers. We are confident that this court will uphold the contracts or acts of its officials, except where there are violations of specific restrictions or prohibitions of the laws of the state, and in that event, we feel that this court is duty bound to determine the status of the City of Laramie regardless as to the results that may occur.

For the respondents, there was a brief and oral argument by J. F. Sullivan of Laramie.

The City of Laramie is operating under a special charter. Sections 1801-1840, R. S. 1931. It has amended its charter by following certain provisions granted to cities of the first class as set forth at Sections 22-1101-1112, R. S. 1931. The special charter of the City delegates certain powers to be exercised by the mayor and council, including the power to make rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry such powers into effect. Section 22-1819, R. S. 1931. It was under said powers that the mayor and council saw fit to amend the City Charter by reducing election expenses and changing the time of holding said elections. They also changed the Charter provisions relating to salaries of city officials. This was done about the year 1900. No formal action appears of record, but it was done by general custom and usage. In 1900, the City published a volume of ordinances that had been theretofore enacted, which ordinances were adopted by a special ordinance as the laws and regulations to be...

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33 practice notes
  • Johnson v. State Hearing Examiner's Office, Nos. 90-297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • August 26, 1992
    ...application were Bell v. Gray, 377 P.2d 924 (Wyo.1963); Pirie v. Kamps, 68 Wyo. 83, 229 P.2d 927 (1951); and May v. City of Laramie, 58 Wyo. 240, 131 P.2d 300 (1942). Somewhere outside the mainstream of these legal inquiries, but certainly one of the most interesting cases regarding economi......
  • Witzenburger v. State ex rel. Wyoming Community Development Authority, No. 4788
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 13, 1978
    ...1135 praiseworthy. However laudable the program might be, that will not validate unconstitutional means. May v. City of Laramie, 1942, 58 Wyo. 240, 266, 131 P.2d 300, 309. If the people of the State, by adopting §§ 1 and 2, Article XVI, have committed themselves to a mistaken policy, the on......
  • Blumenthal v. City of Cheyenne, 2368
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 18, 1947
    ...to it by the State. Western Auto Transports v. City of Cheyenne, 1942, 57 Wyo. 351, 377, 120 P.2d 590; May v. City of Laramie, 1942, 58 Wyo. 240, 271, 131 P.2d 300; Whipps, et al. v. Town of Greybull, 56 Wyo. 355, 109 P.2d 355; Lakota Oil & Gas Co. v. City of Casper, 57 Wyo. 329, 341, 116 P......
  • Nehring v. Russell, No. 4831
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 7, 1978
    ...and applied different standards of care. A classification cannot be made without a reason therefor. May v. City of Laramie, 1942, 58 Wyo. 240, 131 P.2d 300. While there is no prohibition against a reasonable classification of persons and things for the purpose of legislation, the classifica......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Johnson v. State Hearing Examiner's Office, Nos. 90-297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • August 26, 1992
    ...application were Bell v. Gray, 377 P.2d 924 (Wyo.1963); Pirie v. Kamps, 68 Wyo. 83, 229 P.2d 927 (1951); and May v. City of Laramie, 58 Wyo. 240, 131 P.2d 300 (1942). Somewhere outside the mainstream of these legal inquiries, but certainly one of the most interesting cases regarding economi......
  • Witzenburger v. State ex rel. Wyoming Community Development Authority, No. 4788
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 13, 1978
    ...1135 praiseworthy. However laudable the program might be, that will not validate unconstitutional means. May v. City of Laramie, 1942, 58 Wyo. 240, 266, 131 P.2d 300, 309. If the people of the State, by adopting §§ 1 and 2, Article XVI, have committed themselves to a mistaken policy, the on......
  • Blumenthal v. City of Cheyenne, 2368
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 18, 1947
    ...to it by the State. Western Auto Transports v. City of Cheyenne, 1942, 57 Wyo. 351, 377, 120 P.2d 590; May v. City of Laramie, 1942, 58 Wyo. 240, 271, 131 P.2d 300; Whipps, et al. v. Town of Greybull, 56 Wyo. 355, 109 P.2d 355; Lakota Oil & Gas Co. v. City of Casper, 57 Wyo. 329, 341, 116 P......
  • Nehring v. Russell, No. 4831
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 7, 1978
    ...and applied different standards of care. A classification cannot be made without a reason therefor. May v. City of Laramie, 1942, 58 Wyo. 240, 131 P.2d 300. While there is no prohibition against a reasonable classification of persons and things for the purpose of legislation, the classifica......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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