Indiana Municipal Law: Town of Cedar Lake v. Alessia, 985 N.E.2d 55 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013)

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a trial courts grant of summary judgment for the Parks and Recreation Board Members who alleged that the Town of Cedar Lake had improperly removed their positions by dissolving the Parks and Recreation Department.

In Town of Cedar Lake v. Alessia, 985 N.E.2d 55 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), the Town of Cedar Lake (the “Town”) dissolved the Parks and Recreation Department (the “Parks Department”) and eliminated the Board Members positions by voting in new members under Ordinance 1129 (the “Ordinance”). Under Indiana’s Home Rule Act, an Ordinance is valid unless it is prohibited by the Indiana Code or the Indiana Constitution. Generally, a unit has broad powers of local government, unless it is explicitly denied that power, or it has been exclusively granted to another entity.

The Town was able to abolish the Parks Department without express authority from any statute. Further, there are not any Indiana laws that would preclude the Town from abolishing the Parks Department. After the Town abolished the Parks Department, it did not impose additional duties on any other political subdivision that would have violated the Home Rule Act. Therefore, the Parks Department did not have a valid claim against the Town for abolishing their positions.

Jeremy Fetty is a partner in the law firm of Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson with offices in Lebanon and Indianapolis. He often advises businesses and utilities (for profit, non-profit and cooperative) on organizational, human resources, and transactional matters and drafts and reviews commercial contracts.

The statements contained herein are matters of opinion and general information only and are not to be considered legal advice and should not be construed to form an attorney-client relationship. If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact an attorney.