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City of Chesterfield v. State

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

December 24, 2019

CITY OF CHESTERFIELD, et al., Appellants,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, et al., Respondents.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COLE COUNTY The Honorable Jon E. Beetem, Judge.

          Patricia Breckenridge, Judge.

         The City of Chesterfield and its mayor, Bob Nation, brought a declaratory judgment action against the state, seeking a declaration that sections 66.600 and 66.620 [1] are constitutionally invalid special laws. St. Louis County, Ballwin, Florissant, Manchester, University City, Webster Groves, and Wildwood (collectively, "the Intervenors") intervened as defendants. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the state and the Intervenors (collectively, "the Defendants"). In its judgment, the circuit court held sections 66.600 and 66.620 are not special laws. Chesterfield appeals, asserting the trial court erred in failing to find that section 66.600 is a constitutionally invalid special law because the general assembly changed its population classification to exclude St. Charles County. It further asserts the trial court erred in failing to find that section 66.620 is a constitutionally invalid special law because it creates a closed class based on immutable, historical, and geographical facts and is not substantially justified.

         The circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment for the Defendants. Pursuant to the analysis for special laws in City of Aurora v. Spectra Communications Group, LLC, No. SC96276, __S.W.3d__, *18 (Mo. banc Dec. 24, 2019), sections 66.600 and 66.620 are presumptively constitutional and not special laws if their classifications were supported by a rational basis. In their suggestions in support of their motions for summary judgment, the Defendants articulated a rational basis for the classifications in sections 66.600 and 66.200. Accordingly, sections 66.600 and 66.620 are not special laws, and the circuit court did not err in entering summary judgment for the Defendants. The circuit court's judgment is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Chesterfield is located in St. Louis County. In 1977, St. Louis County adopted a county sales tax pursuant to section 66.600.1, which now provides:

The governing body of any county of the first class having a charter form of government and having a population of nine hundred thousand or more may, by adopting an ordinance, impose a countywide sales tax for the benefit of both the incorporated and the unincorporated areas of the county[.][2]

         The revenues of a countywide sales tax collected pursuant to section 66.600 are distributed as provided in section 66.620, also enacted in 1977. Section 66.620.2 now provides:

[F]or the purposes of distributing the county sales tax, the county shall be divided into two groups, "Group A" and "Group B". Group A shall consist of all cities, towns and villages which are located wholly or partly within the county which levied the tax and which had a city sales tax in effect under the provisions of sections 94.500 to 94.550 on the day prior to the adoption of the county sales tax ordinance, except that beginning January 1, 1980, group A shall consist of all cities, towns and villages which are located wholly or partly within the county which levied the tax and which had a city sales tax approved by the voters of such city under the provisions of sections 94.500 to 94.550 on the day prior to the effective date of the county sales tax. For the purposes of determining the location of consummation of sales for distribution of funds to cities, towns and villages in group A, the boundaries of any such city, town or village shall be the boundary of that city, town or village as it existed on March 19, 1984. Group B shall consist of all cities, towns and villages which are located wholly or partly within the county which levied the tax and which did not have a city sales tax in effect under the provisions of sections 94.500 to 94.550 on the day prior to the adoption of the county sales tax ordinance, and shall also include all unincorporated areas of the county which levied the tax; except that, beginning January 1, 1980, group B shall consist of all cities, towns and villages which are located wholly or partly within the county which levied the tax and which did not have a city sales tax approved by the voters of such city under the provisions of sections 94.500 to 94.550 on the day prior to the effective date of the county sales tax and shall also include all unincorporated areas of the county which levied the tax.

         St. Louis County is the only county governed by section 66.600 because it is the only first-class county having a charter form of government and a population of 900, 000 or more. Accordingly, it is the only county to which the provisions of section 66.620 apply. Section 66.620, in effect, classifies all cities in St. Louis County into two groups. Group A consists of cities located at least partially within St. Louis County that passed a city sales tax prior to the county adopting the county sales tax. Group B consists of all cities located at least partially within St. Louis County that had not passed a city sales tax prior to the county adopting the county sales tax. St. Louis County sales tax revenues are distributed first to Group A cities based on the location of the sales. Section 66.620.4. The remaining county sales tax revenues are then distributed to Group B cities in proportion to their populations. Id.

         When St. Louis County enacted its county sales tax in 1977, the area that now comprises Chesterfield was part of the county's unincorporated territory. Chesterfield incorporated as a city in 1988 and was classified as a Group B city under section 66.620, RSMo Supp. 1984.[3]

         In 2014, Chesterfield brought the present declaratory judgment action against the state, claiming sections 66.600 and 66.620 are constitutionally invalid special laws. The Intervenors subsequently intervened as defendants, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court overruled Chesterfield's motion for partial summary judgment, sustained the Defendants' motions for summary judgment, and entered summary judgment in favor of the Defendants, holding sections 66.600 and 66.620 are not special laws.

         Chesterfield appeals. Because Chesterfield challenged the constitutional validity of sections 66.600 and 66.620, this Court has exclusive jurisdiction over the appeal. Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 3. Chesterfield raises six points on appeal. Because Chesterfield's fourth and fifth points are dispositive, this Court addresses these claims of error out of turn.

         Standard ...


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