KS Supreme Court docket Holds Annexation Settlement Invalid

This put up was authored by Amy Lavine, Esq.

The Kansas Supreme Court docket held in July {that a} written settlement between two cities to limit their future annexations was unenforceable.

The settlement at situation was executed in 2006 between the Metropolis of Olathe and the Metropolis of Spring Hill, and it delineated the boundary for every metropolis’s annexation authority for the realm positioned between the 2 cities; the Metropolis of Olathe agreed to not annex property south of the boundary line, the Metropolis of Spring Hill agreed to not annex property north of the road, and each cities reserved their rights to annex properties inside their respective boundary strains. The settlement didn’t embody any expiration date and as an alternative acknowledged that it will stay in impact till it was terminated by the mutual consent of each cities. In 2021, the Metropolis of Spring Hill notified the Metropolis of Olathe that it’s meant to annex property north of the boundary line, in contravention to the settlement. This prompted the Metropolis of Olathe to begin litigation to implement the settlement.

Upon overview, the Kansas Supreme Court docket concluded that the settlement was unenforceable as a governmental motion that would not bind subsequent metropolis councils, and it declined to grant the Metropolis of Olathe’s request for injunctive aid. The court docket defined that its determination was based mostly on the “longstanding frequent regulation rule that an elected governing physique could not use its legislative energy to constrain future governing our bodies to comply with basic coverage selections.” Because the court docket defined:

The essence of this rule lies within the basic philosophy of American democracy. Inside the constraints of constitutionally protected rights, it’s the will of the voters that determines coverage selections. If an elected governing physique is allowed to bind future our bodies to a specific plan of action, the impact is to silence the need of voters sooner or later…. To carry in any other case would invite elected governing our bodies to make their insurance policies everlasting, defeating the flexibility of future voters to set their very own programs, resulting in archaic laws, stagnation, and an incapability to reply to modified circumstances.

Whereas this rule prevents “governmental” or “proprietary” agreements from binding future governing our bodies, it permits legislatures to undertake sure sorts of “administrative” and “proprietary” obligations. The court docket defined that governmental and legislative agreements are inclined to relate to “affairs of political jurisdiction and selling the general public welfare at giant. Such powers contain policymaking, and such a perform can’t be contracted away….” As related to the cities’ annexation settlement, the court docket famous that “the event, introduction, or enchancment of companies are, by and huge, thought-about governmental, however the routine upkeep of the ensuing companies is mostly deemed proprietary.” The settlement, the court docket discovered, mirrored “quintessential coverage issues” concerning the event, introduction, and enchancment of companies, and it was subsequently clearly governmental and couldn’t be thought-about a sound contract with any binding impact on future elected councils. It was not an settlement to supply companies that may be thought-about “administrative,” the court docket mentioned, since “the Settlement doesn’t set up who would supply companies, what these companies can be, when these companies can be offered, or even when these companies can be offered.”

The Metropolis of Olathe argued that the settlement was nonetheless licensed underneath a state statute referring to annexation contracts. Because the court docket identified, nevertheless, the statute explicitly solely allowed contracts which are licensed by regulation, and “a contract that’s of open-ended period that seeks to restrain the coverage selections of future municipal governments is, as we’ve simply noticed, not licensed by regulation.” For comparable causes, the court docket additionally dismissed the Metropolis of Olathe’s competition that the settlement was licensed by its home-rule powers. To carry in any other case, the court docket emphasised, would undermine the whole idea of residence rule, since “it will take away from elected municipal governments the flexibility to make selections and act based on the need of the voters if prior governments had dedicated them to coverage programs .”

Metropolis of Olathe v. Metropolis of Spring Hill, 512 P.3d 723 (Can 7/1/22).

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