The opinion of the court was delivered by
This is an injunction action filed by the plaintiff, R.W. Cook, against the defendant, City of Enterprise, Kansas, challenging the validity of one of the city's ordinances. The facts were stipulated. The District Court of Dickinson County denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, determined the issues adversely to the plaintiff, and entered judgment denying him the relief sought. Plaintiff appeals.
Plaintiff is the owner of certain real estate within the city limits of Enterprise, a city of the third class in Dickinson County, Kansas. Plaintiff rented one of his lots to a Mrs. Branham, and she placed a mobile home thereon. Mrs. Branham later rented the home to a Mrs. Benson. Mrs. Benson paid rent for the mobile home to Mrs. Branham, and rent for the land to the plaintiff. Mrs.
The City of Enterprise operates its own electrical distribution system. In 1980, the City adopted Ordinance No. 1020, which was published once in The Chapman Advertiser and Enterprise Journal on December 24, 1980. The ordinance reads:
"ORDINANCE NO. 1020
"AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF ALL CHARGES FOR ELECTRIC AND WATER-SEWAGE UTILITY SERVICES BY THE OWNERS OF PROPERTY TO WHICH SAID WATER AND ELECTRIC AND SEWAGE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED, WHETHER WITHIN OR WITHOUT THE CITY LIMITS, AND ALSO PROVIDING FOR LIABILITY FOR SAID CHARGES BY THOSE USING SAID UTILITIES.
In July, 1981, the City advised plaintiff of Mrs. Benson's unpaid utility bills and requested payment; plaintiff did not pay and the City then certified the amounts of the unpaid bills, together with a description of the real property, to the county clerk in order that the charges should become a lien upon the real estate pursuant to Ordinance No. 1020. Plaintiff brought this action in an effort to have the ordinance declared invalid.
Plaintiff first argues that the ordinance was not lawfully promulgated. K.S.A. 12-1651 states the qualifications for official
The Enterprise Journal was designated by resolution as the official newspaper of the City of Enterprise from 1959 through 1971. Thereafter, no resolution designating the official city newspaper was adopted. The Chapman Advertiser and The Enterprise Journal merged sometime, but the record does not make it clear exactly when that occurred. At any rate, according to the Enterprise City Clerk, every ordinance requiring publication from 1959 to the publication of Ordinance No. 1020 was published in The Enterprise Journal or its merged successor, The Chapman Advertiser and Enterprise Journal.
Plaintiff contends that because the Advertiser-Journal was not designated by ordinance in 1980 as the official city newspaper, Ordinance No. 1020 was not lawfully promulgated. He bases this argument on Article 12, Section 5(b), the Home Rule amendment of the Kansas Constitution, which provides in part that:
Plaintiff overlooks another provision of Section 5(b), which provides that:
K.S.A. 12-1651a was enacted by the legislature in 1959, and has not since been amended or repealed. It was in full force and effect at the time the Home Rule amendment was adopted in 1960. The statute does not require designation of an official city paper by ordinance; it does not state how designation is to be effected. We read the statute as directory rather than mandatory. Here, where the City officially designated the newspaper as its official city newspaper and then continued to utilize it for local publication of its ordinances over a period of many years, the
Plaintiff next argues that Ordinance No. 1020 was not properly promulgated because K.S.A. 12-137 requires two publications. That statute provides in substance that when a city, under the Home Rule amendment, by ordinance proposes to levy for revenue purposes any tax, excise, fee, charge or other exaction, such ordinance shall be published once each week for two consecutive weeks in the official city newspaper. That statute, however, applies only to the efforts by a city to levy taxes or other exactions for revenue purposes. Utility rates and the collection thereof are not within the purview of K.S.A. 12-137; that statute applies only to tax and tax-like measures. The lien created by the ordinance under attack is not a revenue measure, and the lien in question does not arise from the Home Rule power. The trial court correctly concluded that the statute is not applicable here.
Finally, plaintiff argues that the imposition of a lien upon his property without prior notice to the landlord that the tenant is not paying his or her utility bills constitutes a taking without due process. The general rule as to liens arising for nonpayment of municipal utility bills is stated in 12 McQuillin, Municipal Corporations § 35.38 (3d ed. rev. 1970) as follows:
This rule is equally applicable to rates charged by a municipality for electrical service. See also Annot., Electricity, Gas or Water Charges, 19 A.L.R.3d 1227 and 64 Am.Jur.2d, Public Utilities § 61.
Plaintiff's due process arguments are answered and refuted by the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Dunbar v. City of New York, 251 U.S. 516, 64 L.Ed. 384, 40 S.Ct. 250 (1920). In that case a landlord attacked a lien created by the charter of the City of New York against the landlord's property
That statement, in modern day context, is equally applicable to municipally furnished electrical service.
The judgment is affirmed.