Berkman v. City of Keene

In Berkman v. City of Keene, 311 S.W.3d 523, 527 (Tex. App.--Waco 2009, pet. denied), the city entered into a contract to provide water and sewer services to a landowner for thirty-five years if the property was used on a continuous basis as a home for children who were wards of the State or, for twenty years if the property ceased to be used for that purpose. 311 S.W.3d at 524-25. The landowner argued that the agreement contained two services to the city--use of the property as a home for children who were wards of the State, and the filing of an annexation petition for the property. Id. at 527. The Waco Court of Appeals concluded that the city had no independent obligation to provide for the welfare of children who were wards of the State, thus the landowner's commitment to use the property as such was a service to the State, not the city. Id. According to the court, if the landowner met the needs of parentless children in the city, then the city was the recipient of only an indirect benefit. Id. Likewise, the expansion of the city's tax base resulting from the annexation petition was only an indirect benefit to the city. Id. Because the court found that the benefits to the city under the contract were, at best, indirect or attenuated, it concluded that the contract was not an agreement subject to section 271.152's waiver of immunity provision. Id. at 527-28.