Status of Benefits District Goes to Circuit Court

by Pamela Wilson

At issue: whether the letter of the law, or its claimed intent, must be followed.
The future of the embattled Charles Village Community Benefits District (CVCBD) remains in doubt following a Circuit Court decision to hold a trial on the legality of its one-year reauthorization by the Baltimore City Council. At issue is whether the CVCBD is legally in operation, or expired by law on June 30, 2002 at the end of its previous four-year term.

At a motions hearing that concluded on November 19, a group of CVCBD surtax payers contended that the City Council had granted the CVCBD Management Authority a one-year extension until June 30, 2003 to solve problems, but had no legal authority to do so. State and City laws stipulate that the CVCBD automatically expires if not renewed for four years.

One of the plaintiffs' concerns is that perpetual existence of the CVCBD could result if a precedent is established to alter that requirement.

The City argued unsuccessfully that the CVCBD legally exists, that a one-year stop-gap renewal was clearly justified by the same State and City laws, and that the suit should be dismissed.

The Court declined, and ruled that there were sufficient statutory ambiguities and factual disputes to warrant a trial, at which both sides will present additional evidence.

Surtax payers attending the hearing were pleased with the ruling. Said lead plaintiff Riddell Noble, “The Court was perceptive in understanding the lack of clarity and the ambiguities surrounding the City Council's action.” He expressed confidence that the surtax payers' argument will eventually prevail.

Pamela Wilson is also a CVCBD urtax payer. The Circuit Court Case number is 24-C-02-003997.

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This story was published on December 4, 2002.