MANWARING INVESTMENTS, L.C., an Idaho limited liability company, Plaintiff-Appellant,
CITY OF BLACKFOOT, a municipal corporation, Defendant-Respondent.
Opinion No. 110
from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District,
State of Idaho, Bingham County. Hon. Darren B. Simpson,
granting summary judgment, affirmed.
Manwaring Law Office, Idaho Falls, for appellant. Kipp L.
Law Offices, Blackfoot, for respondent. Garrett H. Sandow
BURDICK, CHIEF JUSTICE.
Investments, L.C., (Manwaring) appeals from Bingham County,
where the district court affirmed a grant of summary judgment
to the City of Blackfoot (City). Manwaring sued the City in
October 2014, alleging the City was overcharging it for
wastewater utilities. The magistrate granted the City's
motion for summary judgment. Manwaring moved for
reconsideration, which the magistrate denied. Manwaring then
appealed the magistrate's rulings to the district court,
which affirmed the magistrate. Manwaring timely appeals the
decision of the district court. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
owns a commercial building (the Building) located in the
City. The Building, constructed in 2001, is approximately 5,
000 square feet. Approximately 2, 100 square feet of the
Building is devoted to office space. The remaining space
consists of "one central entryway, two waiting areas,
two hallways, and two separate restroom areas."
Manwaring leases out space in the Building to several
different commercial tenants.
Ordinance No. 9-3-20 governs wastewater utility rates in the
City. Ordinance No. 9-3-20 embodies the City's effort to
"equate the wastewater use to an Equivalent Dwelling
Unit [(EDU)]." One EDU signifies 350 gallons of
wastewater discharge per day, which, as the City explains, is
the "average volume of domestic waste discharged from an
average residential dwelling unit." Averages are
critical, Ordinance No. 9-3-20 indicates, because the City
does not have "the technology or ability to measure . .
. exact use of the sewer system." Thus, Ordinance No.
9-3-20 assigns properties "a multiplier point (based
upon type of use) and then a point value is determined which
is equal to how many EDU's that particular property is
City amended Ordinance No. 9-3-20 in June 2014, but before
that amendment, Ordinance No. 9-3-20 provided that an
"[o]ffice, up to 20 employees" would be assessed
one EDU. As such, one building containing, for example, ten
offices, each having up to twenty employees, would be
assessed ten EDUs. Even though the Building housed multiple
commercial tenants (and thus multiple offices) from 2001 to
2007, it was assessed only one EDU. The assessment of one EDU
yielded a monthly rate of $25.90 for wastewater utilities.
City conducted a regular reassessment of EDU assessments in
2007. During this reassessment, the Building was assessed two
EDUs. The new assessment took effect sometime in 2008,
thereby increasing the Building's monthly rate for
wastewater utilities to $51.80. The reason for this
assessment was that multiple commercial tenants occupied the
2014, the City amended Ordinance No. 9-3-20. Ordinance No.
9-3-20, as amended, sets forth "19 different
classifications and 74 different sub-classifications, "
which the City uses to make EDU assessments. The City
explains that whether these different classifications and
sub-classifications apply depends on the "type of
building, size of building, type of business, number of
businesses, type of waste water released, and other similar
factors." Under Ordinance No. 9-3-20, as amended, the
Building was assessed two EDUs because it is a commercial
building with no food prep whose space exceeds 4, 000 square
feet. Also in June 2014, the City increased the base rate per
EDU from $25.90 to $30.04. Thus, in June 2014, the
Building's monthly wastewater utility rate increased from
$51.80 to $60.08.
the assessment of two EDUs, but not the base rate per EDU,
Manwaring filed a claim against the City for alleged
wastewater utility overcharges on September 9, 2014.
Manwaring argued the Building should have been assessed one
EDU, not two, because the assessment of two EDUs did not
reasonably approximate the Building's actual wastewater
discharge. Manwaring presented its claim to the city council
on October 7, 2014. The city council concluded the assessment
of two EDUs was permissible and denied the claim.
October 14, 2014, Manwaring filed this lawsuit against the
City and stopped paying the disputed portion of fees.
Manwaring's complaint alleged that the assessment of two
EDUs on the Building: (1) violates the Idaho Revenue Bond
Act; (2) constitutes an unconstitutional tax; and (3)
violates due process. In addition to requesting a declaratory
judgment and an injunction, Manwaring requested damages in
the amount of $1, 803.66, which reflects the amount Manwaring
allegedly overpaid for wastewater utilities.
March 11, 2015, Manwaring moved for a preliminary injunction,
seeking to enjoin the City from applying the assessment of
two EDUs on the Building. On March 25, 2015, the magistrate
held a hearing on Manwaring's requested preliminary
injunction and denied it. The parties then filed
cross-motions for summary judgment. On May 20, 2015, the
magistrate denied Manwaring's motion for summary judgment
and granted the City's motion for summary judgment.
Manwaring timely moved for reconsideration, but the
magistrate denied the motion. Manwaring then appealed the
magistrate's rulings to the district court, which upheld
the judgment in the City's favor. Manwaring timely
appeals to this Court.
ISSUES ON APPEAL
summary judgment properly granted to the City?
Manwaring's motion for reconsideration properly denied?
the prevailing party entitled to attorney fees on appeal?
STANDARD OF REVIEW
appeal of a decision rendered by a district court acting in
its appellate capacity, we directly review the district
court's decision to determine whether it correctly
decided the issues presented to it on appeal."
Borley v. Smith, 149 Idaho 171, 176, 233 P.3d 102,
107 (2010) (citing Idaho Dep't of Health and Welfare
v. Doe, 148 Idaho 124, 126, 219 P.3d 448, 450 (2009)).
below is whether (A) summary judgment was properly granted to
the City; (B) Manwaring's motion for reconsideration was
properly denied; and (C) the prevailing party is entitled to
attorney fees on appeal.
Summary judgment was properly ...