Are Local Ordinances Imposing Mandatory Fees for Utility Services Upheld by Court ?

In Pinellas County v. State, 776 So. 2d 262, 268 (Fla. 2001), the court noted that "where a governmental entity provides access to traditional utility services, this Court has not hesitated to uphold local ordinances imposing mandatory fees, regardless of whether the individual customer actually uses or desires the service." In a footnote, the court cited stormwater management programs defined under section 403.031(17), Florida Statutes (1997) as one category of many statutorily-authorized programs imposing mandatory fees to recoup the costs of providing water service. Id. at 268 n. 11. In another footnote, we noted that water systems are equivalent to traditional utilities such as sewer systems. Id. at 268 n.10. Also, in City of Port Orange, 650 So. 2d at 4, the court distinguished a transportation utility fee that we held to be a tax from stormwater utility fees, noting that "storm-water utility fees are expressly authorized by section 403.031, Florida Statutes (1993)." See also City of Dunedin v. Contractors & Builders Ass'n, 312 So. 2d 763, 766 (Fla. 2d DCA 1975) ("The imposition of fees for the use of a municipal utility system is not an exercise of the taxing power nor is it the levy of a special assessment.") (citing State v. City of Miami, 157 Fla. 726, 27 So. 2d 118 (Fla. 1946)), quashed on other grounds, 329 So. 2d 314 (Fla. 1976).