A judge has upheld the constitutionality of a 1994 law that created a property tax that finances the North Jessamine Subdistrict of the Jessamine County Fire District.
In a suit filed in 2010, a dozen homeowners in northwestern Jessamine County challenged the existence of the fire protection subdistrict.
But on Thursday, Jessamine Circuit Judge Hunter Daugherty found the law to be constitutional.
"I think that's wonderful," said Bill Moore, the Versailles lawyer who is counsel for the fire district and subdistrict. "I think it's correct."
Judge Daugherty also removed Jessamine Fiscal Court as a defendant in the suit. "We're relieved," said Brian Goettl, the county attorney who represents Jessamine Fiscal Court. The Jessamine County Fire District remains a defendant.
The homeowners who filed the suit challenging the 1994 law also alleged that taxes they have paid solely for fire-safety improvements in Windhaven, Equestrian Estates, Clays Mill Crossing and other northwestern Jessamine subdivisions had been used for the county as a whole.
In 2009, the state auditor's office criticized the county fire district board for commingling tax money collected from northwestern Jessamine and spending it on facilities and services outside the subdistrict.
Since the audit, the fire district has refunded about $360,000 to the subdistrict account, Moore said.
The remaining issue to be resolved is how much more money should be refunded. Daugherty suggested that an independent auditor should be hired to help resolve that issue, Moore said.
In the meantime, Mark Wohlander, the attorney who represents the homeowners, said Daugherty's ruling will probably be appealed.
"We're going to meet with our clients next week and we're going to sit down and discuss an appeal," Wohlander said.