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Florida Supreme Court upholds city of Cape Coral fire services levy

By Staff | May 7, 2015

The Florida Supreme Court has validated the city of Cape Coral’s annual assessment to provide fire protection services, saying the municipality did not “violate existing law.”

The city has the authority to issue special assessments, the court stated in its May 7 ruling, adding the court’s scope of review is limited to “1) whether the municipality has the authority to issue the assessment; (2) whether the purpose of the assessment is legal; and (3) whether the assessment complies with the requirements of the law.”

“[A] valid special assessment must meet two requirements: (1) the property assessed must derive a special benefit from the service provided; and (2) the assessment must be fairly and reasonably apportioned according to the benefits received,” the court stated in its finding, which cites numerous previous case decisions, adding “Even an unpopular decision, when made correctly, must be upheld.”

The city meets the legal requirements, the court ruled.

The assessment methodology, which was challenged by a group of residents shortly after it was approved by city council, was previously deemed legal by a Lee County judge in 2013.

The group, which includes Cape Coral attorney Scott Morris, then appealed to the state supreme court where a decision has been pending since December.

The city of Cape Coral has scheduled a 1:30 press conference to address the ruling.

This story will be updated following that conference.