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November 14, 2013

City wins state supreme court case

Justices: Consequential order not necessary for agreement process

The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin and City Council in a lawsuit that alleged the city did not have the authority to enter into negotiations with a power plant developer.

The suit was first filed in Cass County Superior Court II in March by Logansport resident Julie Kitchell, represented by attorney Jim Brugh. It claimed legislation authorizing the city to negotiate with power plant developer Pyrolyzer LLC was invalid because it was adopted out of order in a sequence defined by state statutes.

After being dismissed at the county level, Kitchell appealed to the state appellate court. Before the court could come back with a response, the city's attorneys filed a request with the state supreme court, which heard oral arguments in September.

The suit alleged an ordinance authorizing the city to engage in the public-private agreement process with Pyrolyzer is invalid because it was adopted after issuing a request for proposals regarding the power plant project.

In the suit, Brugh cites the Indiana Code's Home Rule Act, which states "If there is a constitutional or statutory provision requiring a specific manner for exercising a power, a unit wanting to exercise that power must do so in that manner." He applies this to the state's public-private agreement provision, concluding that the city had to first adopt the provision before issuing the request for proposals.

"The question in this case is whether the 'specific manner' required before a city may exercise the power to enter a public-private agreement includes a sequencing requirement," the state supreme court's opinion states. "We think not."

"...Nowhere does the act require a political subdivision to 'adopt' the act before taking any further action consistent with the act," the ruling continues.

Franklin said the opinion confirms what he, council members and their attorneys have "said all along."

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