This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
City of Karlstad,
Filed June 8, 2004
Roger C. Malm, Brink, Sobolik, Severson, Malm & Albrecht, P.A., P.O. Box 790, Hallock, MN 56728 (for respondent)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Jual C. Carlson appeals from the district court’s entry of judgment for respondent City of Karlstad. Appellant argues the district court erred in concluding his claim was subject to the 30-day statute of limitations set forth in Minn. Stat. § 429.081 (2002). Because we conclude appellant’s claim was barred by the doctrine of laches, we affirm.
Appellant resides at the corner of 1st Street and McKinley Avenue in Karlstad. At some point in the mid-1990s the sidewalk on appellant’s property began to deteriorate.
The replacement of appellant’s sidewalk was discussed at numerous city council meetings. At the July 1995 council meeting, Robert Carlson, appellant’s neighbor and apparently his relative, requested Karlstad replace the sidewalk for the entire block. The council unanimously approved the request. At the October 16, 1995 council meeting, attended by appellant, the minutes provide, “Sidewalk Project Update: Property owners have decided to wait until spring.” At the July 1996 council meeting, Karlstad accepted the lowest of three bids to replace the sidewalk and provided the work was to be completed by August 31, 1996.
In August 1996, appellant requested to speak to the council regarding the sidewalk’s layout. The minutes of the August 19th council meeting provide, “Jual Carlson request—Wants the sidewalk moved out to the curb on his property.” The council agreed “all property owners must agree to move it to the curb, otherwise go straight as planned.” The sidewalk was installed straight according to the original plan.
In the fall of 1996, the sidewalk project was completed and the cost of the project was added to the tax assessment roll. The city treasurer sent a letter to the county auditor providing $1,369 should be assessed to appellant’s property beginning in the 1997-tax year. For the 1997 tax year, appellant paid the property tax he owed less the assessments for the sidewalk project.
In June 1997, the county treasurer sent appellant a letter advising him the total taxes due for the property had not been paid and failure to pay the tax in full would lead to penalties, interests, and eventually forfeiture of the property. On March 10, 2003, the county auditor sent a letter to all possible owners of appellant’s property stating appellant’s property will be forfeited to the state if delinquent taxes are not paid. The letter indicated the total due, which included tax, penalties, and interests, was $4,248.89.
After receiving this notice, appellant filed a claim in conciliation court. The conciliation court dismissed appellant’s claim because it lacked jurisdiction. This judgment was vacated and appellant’s claim was removed to the district court. The district court concluded appellant failed to assert his claim in a timely manner under Minn. Stat. § 429.081 and dismissed appellant’s case.
Appellant argues Karlstad did not comply with the requirements under chapter 429 and thus the assessment against his property is not valid. Karlstad counters that appellant had the opportunity to challenge the request made by his neighbors under chapter 429 but failed to exercise that right and because appellant has not challenged the levy for more than six years he should be barred from challenging the assessment. We conclude this court’s decision in Gadey v. City of Minneapolis, 517 N.W.2d 344 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Aug. 24, 1994), is dispositive of this matter.
In Gadey, homeowners challenged assessments Minneapolis made under Minn. Stat. § 429.10 for nuisance abatement. Id. at 346-47. On appeal the city conceded it had not complied with the statute’s notice provisions, but argued because the homeowners waited between three to nine years to challenge the assessments they should be barred under the doctrine of laches. Id. at 347-48. This court concluded the doctrine of laches barred homeowners’ claim because “knowing of the assessments from their tax statements, they did not diligently challenge them, and the delay prejudiced the city.” Id. at 348.
Here, appellant was aware of the tax assessment for the sidewalk at the latest in June 1997; yet, he did not challenge the assessment until March 2003 when the county threatened to foreclose on the property. Appellant was also made aware of the consequence he would face if he did not pay the assessment to his property. Further, Karlstad would be prejudiced if we were to allow appellant to challenge the assessment more than six years after the assessment was initially made. See Shortridge v. Daubney, 425 N.W.2d 840, 842 (Minn. 1988) (“Municipalities are prejudiced if there is no point in time at which their assessments become final.”).
Because we conclude the doctrine of laches bars appellant from challenging the assessment to his property for the repair of the sidewalk, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of his case. See Katz v. Katz, 408 N.W.2d 835, 839 (Minn. 1987) (“[W]e will not reverse a correct decision simply because it is based on incorrect reasons.”).
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.