Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Court

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The Bridgewater State University Foundation owns three buildings and three undeveloped parcels. One building is occupied by foundation offices and the university's alumni office; another houses the university's political science department; and the third is used by the university and the foundation for receptions and fundraising. The undeveloped parcels are used by students for recreation. None of the properties is used exclusively by the foundation. The foundation permits the university to use all the properties free of charge. The Appellate Tax Board decided that the foundation was entitled to the charitable exemption from local property taxes, G.L. c. 59, Sect. 5; the Appeals Court reversed. The Massachusetts Supreme Court concluded that the foundation is entitled to the exemption. The foundation is a public charitable trust, and it is "organized and operate[s] exclusively for the benefit of" Bridgewater State University under G.L. c. 15A, sect. 37. The foundation has qualified as a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The university is an institution of public higher education and certifies that the foundation is operating "in a manner consistent with" the university's goals and policies and uses its money and assets solely for the benefit of the university. View "Bridgewater State Univ. Found. v. Bd. of Assessors of Bridgewater" on Justia Law

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Since at least 1986, the town had a deteriorating sewer system. Defects allowed inflow and infiltration (I/I). Wet weather caused overflow, contaminating the ocean, rivers, and wetlands. To avoid overflow into housing, the town installed, without approval, a bypass pump that discharged raw sewage into the Saugus River. In 2005, the town entered into a consent order with the Department of Environmental Protection, acknowledging violations of the Clean Water Act and state law; the town was required to implement plans to eliminate I/I. There was a moratorium on new connections until the problem was addressed. The town embarked on a 10-year, $27 million dollar plan. Ratepayers were to finance the majority of the plan. In the interim, the town required new connections to pay an I/I reduction contribution, calculated by multiplying, by a factor that decreased as repairs were completed, the number of gallons of new flow to be generated. Plaintiff, developers, paid $670,460 to accommodate new flow from the single-family houses and multifamily housing. The trial court concluded that the charge provided no particularized benefit to the developers; that the amount was excessive compared to regulatory costs involved; and that the charge was an impermissible tax. The Massachusetts Supreme Court vacated, finding that the charge is a fee. View "Denver St. LLC v. Town of Saugus" on Justia Law

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This case concerned the way by which the costs of financing the school district were apportioned among the city of New Bedford, the town of Dartmouth, and the town of Fairhaven, which were municipalities comprising the school district. Dartmouth commenced an action in the superior court against defendants challenging the funding obligations imposed on the member municipalities by the Education Reform Act of 1993, G.L.c. 70, section 6. Fairhaven filed a cross claim asserting that the funding obligations imposed by the Act were a disproportionate tax on property and income in violation of the state constitution. The court held that the complaint filed by Dartmouth and cross claim filed by Fairhaven were properly dismissed because Dartmouth and Fairhaven failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted.